When you visit your doctor’s office or go to the emergency room, you expect to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment that is appropriate to your particular injury or illness. You expect to have any risks explained to you so that you can make informed decisions about your medical care, and you expect to go home feeling better than you did when you walked through the door.
Unfortunately, while these expectations are eminently reasonable, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other care providers and facilities often fail to meet their obligations to their patients. Medical mistakes and administrative errors are common; and, due to the circumstances involved, these mistakes and errors can have drastic consequences.
10 Common Examples of Medical Malpractice in Alaska
If you received inadequate or inappropriate medical care at an Alaska doctor’s office, hospital, or other medical facilities, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. While not all mistakes and errors constitute malpractice, many of them do. The following are 10 examples of medical failures that can support claims for financial compensation:
1. Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose is among the most common forms of medical malpractice. Providing an appropriate diagnosis is a fundamental aspect of quality patient care; and, whether due to misreading a patient’s symptoms, failure to order scans or tests, misinterpretation of test results, failing to spend sufficient time with the patient, or other factors, failure to diagnose is a critical mistake that can leave a patient without the treatment he or she needs.
Misdiagnosis, or providing an incorrect diagnosis, can be even more dangerous than failing to diagnose a patient completely. With a misdiagnosis, not only does the patient not receive treatment for his or her condition, but the patient may receive treatment for a condition that he or she does not have as well. Depending on the treatment provided, this can have negative health consequences, and it could potentially even worsen the condition for which the patient sought treatment initially.
3. Delayed Diagnosis
Delayed diagnosis of a patient’s condition can lead to reversible or irreversible complications. With many types of traumatic injuries, prompt treatment is critical to avoiding permanent limitations or physical disabilities. With medical conditions such as cancer, a delayed diagnosis can mean the difference between a fairly simple removal procedure and long-term radiology treatment, and potentially even between life and death.
4. Anesthesia Errors
Administering too little anesthesia, administering too much anesthesia, administering the wrong kind of anesthesia, failing to monitor an anesthetized patient, and failure to consider a patient’s individual health risks are all common examples of anesthesia-related malpractice. These errors can have consequences ranging from temporary side effects (such as blurred vision and tinnitus) to permanent brain damage and severe cardiovascular complications.
5. Medication Errors
Along with anesthesia errors, various other types of medication errors are common as well. Examples of medication errors that can give rise to claims for medical malpractice include:
- Administering or prescribing an incorrect dosage (overdose or underdose)
- Administering or prescribing the wrong drug
- Mixing up patients’ prescriptions
- Failing to consider negative interactions with a patient’s other medications
- Failing to consider a patient’s allergies, medical condition, or medication history
6. Surgical Mistakes
Similar to the other types of medical malpractice discussed so far, surgical mistakes can take many different forms, and they can have many different negative consequences. Examples of surgical errors include performing the wrong procedure, performing the right procedure in the wrong location (or even on the wrong patient), causing internal injuries during surgery, leaving sponges or surgical tools in the patient’s body, and failing to timely address complications during surgery.
7. Childbirth Mistakes
Mistakes during labor and delivery can potentially injure both the mother and the newborn child. Errors during childbirth can have tragic consequences for the newborn, ranging from physical injuries (such as shoulder dystocia) to developmental disabilities resulting from hypoxia, or lack of blood flow to the brain. Maternal injuries and complications resulting from medical malpractice during childbirth can include anemia, diabetes, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and potentially-dangerous infections.
8. Failure to Treat
While providing an accurate diagnosis is fundamental to quality medical care, it is just the first step in the process. Once a patient has been accurately diagnosed, he or she must be treated accordingly. Failure to timely treat a patient’s condition – whether due to tending to too many patients at once, inadequately documenting the patient’s condition in his or her medical record, sending a patient home too soon, or other factors – can have consequences on par with failing to diagnose the patient entirely.
9. Failure to Refer
In the medical field, specialists exist for a reason. The human body is extraordinarily complex, and the range of possible injuries, diseases, and other medical conditions are far too broad for any one doctor to be able to offer appropriate treatment to all patients.
In many cases, patients will receive improper or inadequate treatment due to one doctor’s failure to provide a referral to another. If your condition required specialized treatment and you did not receive it, you may have a claim for medical malpractice.
10. Hospital Administration Errors
Certain types of hospital administration errors can support claims for medical malpractice or other forms of negligence as well. Some of the most common issues include understaffing (resulting in delayed treatment), failing to prepare and maintain accurate patient records, and failing to admit patients in need of emergency medical care.
What to Do if You Suspect Medical Malpractice in Alaska
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and if you have any concerns about the quality of your medical care, you should seek a second opinion right away. For more tips on what to do if you suspect medical malpractice, you can read: What to Do (and Not to Do) if You’ve Been Injured by Medical Malpractice.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation
If you have concerns about medical malpractice in Alaska and would like to speak with an attorney about your legal rights, I encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible, please call 907-262-9164.