What is Medical Malpractice?

Surgical team passing instruments in the operating room.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional or institution fails to uphold a certain standard of care, causing injury to the patient. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a common issue.

Medical Malpractice In Action

According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):

  • Four hundred thousand hospitalized patients experience some form of preventable harm (medical malpractice) annually.
  • One in one thousand primary care visits causes preventable harm (medical malpractice).

Here are a few key points you should know:

  • Most malpractice claims in hospitals are related to surgical errors.
  • Most malpractice claims in outpatient settings are related to diagnostic errors.
  • Hospitals that understaff RNs to reduce overhead have increased mortality rates.

7 Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors occur when anesthesia is improperly used, administered, or managed. Common anesthesia errors include incorrect dosage, failure to administer, and poor follow-up care.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries are injuries sustained by the child or mother during birth. Birth injuries are not the same as birth defects, as they only exist due to medical negligence or error, not genetics. Birth injuries to the child can include oxygen deprivation, and birth injuries to the mother can include tearing and hemorrhaging.

Emergency Room Errors

Emergency room (ER) errors are medical negligence or errors that occur within the confines of the ER. Unfortunately, higher error rates usually occur in stressful, fast-paced environments such as the ER. Common ER errors include failure to recognize signs of a heart attack, wrong blood type infusion, and missed diagnosis.

Hospital-Acquired Infections

A hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is any infection a person develops while being treated in a hospital or by hospital doctors, nurses, or staff. Most HAIs are avoidable and result from medical professionals failing to follow certain protocols and procedures to prevent the spread of diseases. Common HAIs include meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis.

Medication Errors

Medication errors occur when medication is improperly prescribed, filled, administered, or labeled. Common medication errors include prescribing the wrong dosage and failing to assess adverse drug interactions with existing medications.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors occur when a medical professional improperly diagnoses, fails to diagnose, or delays a patient's diagnosis. These diagnostic errors are commonly referred to as misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, and delayed diagnosis, respectively.

Wrongful Death

Wrongful death in medical malpractice occurs when a patient’s death resulted from a medical professional or institution’s negligence or error. Simply, wrongful death in medical malpractice occurs when a patient’s death was preventable.

Establishing Medical Malpractice

Legally, the following elements must be established in a medical malpractice claim:

  • Duty of Care: The medical professionals or institution in question owed the patient care.
  • Standard of Care: The level of care from a medical professional or institution that the patient could reasonably expect in their specific circumstances.
  • Breach of Standard of Care: Care provided by the medical professionals or institution in question did not meet the standard of care for the patient.
  • Injury Sustained: The patient sustained an injury.
  • Causation of Injury: The injury the patient sustained occurred as a result of the medical professionals or institution’s breach of the standard of care.

New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawyers

At Curtis & Co., we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to medical malpractice law. If you were hurt or if your loved one died due to suspected medical malpractice, reach out to our firm immediately to learn how we can help. We offer free initial consultations and do not collect attorney fees or litigation-related expenses unless we recover a settlement or verdict for you.

For a free consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, call (505) 871-3740 or reach us online using our secure contact form.

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