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What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

When you require medical care, the course of your treatment is the last thing you want to worry about. While physicians and other medical professionals are rigorously trained to prevent mishaps, sometimes accidents occur. When a physician or other medical professional fails to provide adequate care, it is known as medical malpractice. There are several paths medical malpractice can take, but some are more common than others.

Childbirth and Prenatal Injury

Giving birth to a child is a cause for celebration, but it can also be a frightening prospect for some moms-to-be.

Though technology has made childbirth increasingly safe, there is still potential for birth injuries to occur. Medical malpractice can happen during pregnancy or during the labor itself. Some common causes are:

  • Failure to diagnose birth defects that could be improved or corrected with fetal surgery, as is the case with some heart defects.
  • Failure to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy, leading to tubal rupture, infertility, or death.
  • Failure to identify any condition of the mother, like placenta previa, which can lead to sepsis, shock, and death.
  • Negligent attitude toward fetal distress, which can lead to permanent brain damage or death.
  • Not ordering a C-section when one could be deemed best for the health of the mother or the child (for example, doctors generally order these when labor has stalled to prevent infection or breathing problems in the baby).

Wrong Diagnosis or Extreme Delay in Diagnosis

In most cases, determining the root of a health problem is a game of trial and error based on your health history and symptoms. As such, it is not uncommon for doctors to pursue an initial diagnosis but arrive at a differential one. When this process leads to extreme delays in treatment or approaches negligence, it is a form of medical malpractice. The key in proving medical malpractice lies in determining whether the doctor provided substandard care that caused more harm.

For example, if a physician misdiagnosed a mole as benign but another doctor later diagnosed you with Stage II melanoma that requires chemotherapy, you may have a malpractice case with the first doctor. If another doctor determines that chemotherapy could have been avoided with an earlier diagnosis, you have even better chances of receiving compensation.

Anesthesiology Malpractice

Anesthesiologists work with surgeons to make sure you remain properly sedated during a procedure. It is their job to monitor your vitals and make sure you come out of anesthesia safely. You may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim if:

  • They give you too much anesthesia.
  • They fail to check your history or current medications to prevent any possible complications or interactions.
  • They intubate you improperly, leading to trachea damage.
  • They do not warn you fully about the risks associated with the procedure.

Preventing Medical Mishaps

In Canada, work is currently underway for what designers are calling a “surgical black box.” It is not unlike those found in airplanes, but has an important distinction: a surgical black box is meant to prevent future mistakes in the operating room.

Using the black box, surgeons will be able to view themselves and refine their techniques. Software programmed into the box itself will alert the surgical team when it is veering from standard care and into situations that may lead to complications. Its creators envision it as a learning tool – one capable of allowing surgeons to hone in on their mistakes and prevent adverse outcomes.

If you feel you have suffered as a direct result of substandard medical care, contact our Boston medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation.

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