doctor examining a patient's bottle of medication

When you see doctors for any health problem, you rely on their experience and knowledge. Unfortunately, sometimes faith in a health care provider turns out to be unfounded. A physician or other provider who makes a mistake can inflict serious and lasting harm. Not every medical mistake can serve as the basis of a medical malpractice suit. Additionally, the fact of a bad patient outcome on its own does not mean that a doctor did anything wrong. The general standard for deciding if the doctor could be at fault involves examining whether his or her actions met the general care standards in the field based on current practice and guidelines.

Wrong or late diagnosis

Sometimes doctors deliver an incorrect diagnosis, or they do not come up with a correct diagnosis until the condition has progressed. In some cases, a delay in diagnosis can be extremely serious; for example, some cancers may start out relatively treatable, but if left alone, they spread and become very difficult to treat effectively. In the case of a misdiagnosis, courts often look at whether the doctor could have done anything different that would have led to a correct diagnosis. Sometimes a physician ignores a patient's complaints or fails to order tests based on the doctor's perception of the patient's condition.

Retained surgical items

Surgery may present another opportunity for errors. A common problem includes surgical instruments or bandages left inside the patient. These can cause serious discomfort, infection, bleeding, and may need more surgery to remove them. Many hospitals implement measures to reduce these occurrences, including RFID tagging of all equipment and multiple counts at various stages during the procedure.

Wrong prescription

Mistakes in prescribing medications can lead to serious health problems. One type of prescription error happens when physicians prescribe the wrong dosage. In other cases, they may neglect to account for potential interactions with other medications the patient takes. Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences. These cases also involve complex issues involving causation and the establishment of the relevant standard of care. If you or a loved one suffered from a doctor's malpractice, speak with an experienced attorney who can advise you of your legal options.

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