Any health care professional can injure or kill a patient through medical malpractice. Unfortunately, opportunities for doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and specialists to make life-threatening mistakes abound.

Brief discussions of some of the cases we have seen most often during our decades of combined practice as medical malpractice attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio, follow. If you or a member of your family has fallen victim to one of the problems identified here, or if you suspect that a negligent health care provider has harmed you in some other way, call Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman at (800) 678-3318 to schedule a free consultation. We also take appointments online and can travel to you if your health or other considerations make visiting our offices in Cleveland too difficult.

Surgical Errors

This partial list of frequent surgical errors only scratches the surface of all the deadly or disabling mistakes that surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and surgical aides can make. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Removing the wrong organ
  • Amputating the wrong limb
  • Injuring a patient while doing an operation
  • Administering an overdose of anesthesia
  • Administering too little anesthesia
  • Leaving surgical implements or sponges inside patients
  • Allowing patients to fall off the surgery table
  • Setting patients on fire due to a combination of flammable gases and the buildup of static electricity
  • Allowing infections to develop following surgery

Missed Diagnoses

Doctors and nurse practitioners can easily mistake chronic or potentially fatal health conditions for less serious problems. Cancers, aggressive respiratory infections and autoimmune diseases get misidentified all the time, subjecting patients to needless suffering and, too often, early deaths.

As we discuss in more detail below, it is not enough for a health care professional to make the wrong diagnosis. A misdiagnosis error only meets the legal definition of medical malpractice if a majority of similarly qualified health care professionals would have made the correct diagnosis when presented with the same information in terms of observable and reported symptoms, available test results and contemporary medical knowledge.

Medication Errors

Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses and nurse aides commit malpractice when the do any of the following things:

  • Dispense or administer the wrong drug to a patient
  • Dispense or administer the wrong dose
  • Administer drugs that have a high possibility of interacting in ways that will harm the patient
  • Fail to warn about dangerous drug interactions
  • Dispense or administer overdoses

Medication errors are among the most common forms of medical malpractice, but most patients experience no permanent harm. Only a person who suffers greatly from a medication error can purse a medical malpractice claim.

Birth Errors

All members of a birthing team have high legal duties to protect the health and safety of the mother and infant. When complications occur during labor, delivery or in the first hours of neonatal care, OB/GYNs, nurses, midwives and aides must act quickly and appropriately. The most common preventable birth injuries are related to depriving the infant of oxygen, allowing the mother to develop an infection, failing to control the mother’s blood pressure and heart rate during labor and delivery or injuring the infant while removing the child from the birth canal or by dropping the newborn.

Proving Medical Malpractice Is Difficult

Note that experiencing a poor outcome from treatment does not, by itself, provide grounds for pursuing a medical malpractice claim. To succeed in receiving a malpractice insurance settlement or receiving a civil trial jury award, the victim must show all of the following facts:

  • The health care provider named as the defendant/respondent had a duty of care to the patient/plaintiff,
  • The defendant/respondent violated that duty of care by acting negligently,
  • The negligent act directly harmed the patient/plaintiff, and
  • The harm experienced was significant.

Partnering with an experienced Cleveland, Ohio, medical malpractice attorney can help gather and organize all the evidence need to prove these things.