Common Medical Mistakes That Lead to Lawsuits

Common Medical Mistakes That Lead to Lawsuits

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Medical mistakes are a serious public health issue in the United States. Estimates from two famous studies suggest that preventable medical mistakes kill 251,000 to 440,000 U.S. patients each year.

Patients who do not lose their lives may suffer from permanent health conditions that severely reduce their quality of life. In some cases, these patients or their family members seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, hospital, or another party. Below, we list common medical mistakes that may lead to a lawsuit.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are the most common type of medical mistake in the country. However, there are multiple types of diagnostic errors. Common diagnostic errors include but are not limited to:

  • Delayed diagnosis. This is where a doctor gets the diagnosis wrong the first time but later corrects the mistake after time has passed. In some cases, a delayed diagnosis makes it impossible or much more difficult to treat a serious health condition.
  • Missed diagnosis. A medical practitioner may get a diagnosis wrong with no correction ever being made. Patients may believe they have a “clean bill of health” when in fact they are suffering from a potentially dangerous or fatal health condition. 
  • Wrong diagnosis. In some cases, a doctor may confuse one health condition with another. For instance, a doctor may mistake bacterial meningitis with the flu. There are more common examples, as bacterial meningitis is extremely rare. Heart attacks share similar symptoms with common health conditions. 
  • Failure to diagnose a related disease. This is where a doctor gets one diagnosis correct but fails to detect another condition that is affecting the diagnosed condition. 

Diagnostic errors can occur in any type of health care setting. However, emergency rooms are notorious for the examples listed above. 

Surgical Errors 

Some types of surgical errors are called “never events”. As the name implies, a “never event” is a type of medical error that should not happen. The National Quality Forum maintains a list of never events. Surgical never events may include: 

  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Leaving surgical equipment in patients after a procedure (retained surgical items)
  • Conducting the wrong type of surgical procedure

There are other types of surgical errors where patients might be able to sue. A surgeon may harm healthy organs during a procedure or could fail to recognize a dangerous health condition before or during the surgery. 

You should consult with a medical malpractice attorney if you or a loved one suffered harm during surgery and you have questions about your legal rights. 

Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes can kill patients or cause life-altering injuries. It would depend on the medication involved, the dosage and other factors. These types of mistakes can occur in a hospital or pharmacy.

Medication mistakes include: 

  • Providing the wrong medication
  • Providing the wrong dosage
  • Incorrectly administering the drug
  • Omission errors – such as failing to provide a patient a scheduled dose
  • Giving a patient medication at the incorrect time
  • Incorrectly preparing a compound medication
  • Failing to monitor patients for complications caused by the medication

When Is a Medical Mistake Medical Malpractice?

Patients and their family members may be able to seek compensation for their damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are certain requirements for filing a lawsuit. You must be within the statute of limitations. 

More importantly, you must be able to demonstrate that the medical professional responsible for your care did not provide services within the accepted standard of care and that you suffered damages as a result. 

You should speak with one of our attorneys if you have questions about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina.

About Our Rock Hill Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. can help you determine if it would be possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in South Carolina. Our personal injury attorneys have experience with a variety of personal injury cases. You can learn more about our law firm on our website. Our website also has helpful information about how you can protect a potential medical malpractice claim

Call (803)324-7200 or use the online contact form on our website to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. 

Nursing Home Sued for Wrongful Death, Malpractice in Orangeburg County

Nursing Home Sued for Wrongful Death, Malpractice in Orangeburg County

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More than three million people in the United States currently live in nursing homes. In one survey with residents, about 44 percent indicated they had suffered from abuse and more than 95 percent indicated they’d been neglected.

The knowledge that your loved one has been abused or neglected in a nursing home can be jarring — and even infuriating. In these situations, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the offending company to seek damages for the pain and suffering your family has experienced.

One such lawsuit was recently filed in Orangeburg County by Darlene Bethea.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed in Orangeburg County

Bethea represents the estate of Rena Mae Zinnerman. In her lawsuit, Bethea alleges the owner of Phaire’s Care — the assisted living facility where Zinnerman lived — was driving with Zinnerman and three other residents of the facility in his vehicle when he was involved in an accident.

Zinnerman died from her injuries less than two weeks later. The wrongful death lawsuit is holding Phaire’s Care responsible for her death. It’s unclear why the residents were in the vehicle in the first place.

Another lawsuit was recently filed by Jason Broughton, who represents the estate of Judy Broughton, against the same company. This lawsuit alleges medical malpractice.

According to documents filed in court, Judy suffered multiple injuries and medical complications after becoming a resident at Phaire’s Care in September 2015. Less than a month after moving in, she was taken to Trident Medical Center with severe wounds.

Judy passed away in December 2015. The lawsuit alleges she was not given proper medical attention and treatment from staff members at Phaire’s Care.

A local news outlet noted the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has cited the assisted living home with medical policy violations in the past. The department recorded issues like incorrectly administered medication, not keeping records on-hand, and not properly feeding residents.

The home was fined $23,500 in 2014 for similar violations.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

There is often some overlap in nursing home neglect and medical malpractice. In both cases, staff members have a certain “duty of care” — and when that care isn’t provided, patients get hurt.

In order to prove medical malpractice has taken place, there should be provable negligence or recklessness on the part of staff. In the case of negligence, mistakes that rise to the level of medical malpractice could include the failure to diagnose a harmful condition, misdiagnosis, or unacceptable errors during surgery. These issues are commonly the focus of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Recklessness, on the other hand, is rare. It could involve a doctor performing surgery or a risky medical procedure while under the influence of drugs or alcohol — or a doctor that administered potentially lethal amounts of medication against acceptable medical practices.

It’s important to note that medical malpractice does not include when a patient naturally worsens in condition or when the condition is untreatable. 

Contact an Experienced Rock Hill Malpractice Attorney for Representation

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to nursing home abuse or medical malpractice, then it’s important to get in touch with a dedicated personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact our team at The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union by calling (803)-324-7200.

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Family Awarded Millions in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit From Horry County

Family Awarded Millions in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit From Horry County

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Every single day in the United States, we put our trust in licensed practitioners. We trust physicians, surgeons, optometrists, dentists, and a variety of other professionals to keep our physical and mental health afloat.

Unfortunately, some physicians (or their employers) fail to protect patients from harm. Such was the case with Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services, LLC.

The Case

Around 1:30 a.m. on October 3, 2015, 26-year-old Matthew Scheer was hearing voices. Scheer was suffering from a sudden onset of mental illness described by family attorney Brink Hinson as “psychosis.” 

Scheer had been driven by his father to Grand Strand Medical Center around 4 p.m. on October 2. Dr. Nirlep Patel was named his attending physician, and a psychiatric consultation was ordered. This consultation never took place. 

Late that night, Scheer’s father left the hospital to get toiletries, clothes, and some sleep. Early the next morning, Scheer had an outburst in which he yelled and screamed at hospital staff — expressing a desire to leave. Outside, a hurricane had reached Horry County.

Regardless, Dr. Rachel Ash-Bernal allowed Scheer to leave after signing discharge instructions that stated he was leaving “against medical advice.” She did not contact his father because she did not believe HIPAA rules allowed it. 

Thirty minutes after his release, Scheer drowned himself in the Atlantic Ocean. In response, his family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against Ash-Bernal, Patel, Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services, and Grand Strand Regional Medical Center.

In their lawsuit, the family claimed Southern Myrtle Inpatient Services — the employer of both Patel and Ash-Bernal — had failed to property train their employees about exceptions involving patient safety.

After a five-day trial in June 2019, a jury in Horry County returned a verdict finding Southern Myrtle Inpatient Service 100 percent at-fault for the death of Matthew Scheer. They did not, however, find legal responsibility for Ash-Bernal or Patel. 

Prior to the trial, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center reached a $600,000 settlement with the Scheer family. Including this settlement, the Scheer family was awarded a total of $3,500,000 in actual damages — the largest medical malpractice verdict in Horry County recent history.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice can be illustrated in a number of ways. Most often, it’s considered a violation of the standard of care. There are certain medical standards that are recognized across the profession as acceptable medical treatment — and all patients have a right to expect that standard of care. 

For example, a case could be made for medical malpractice if a physician fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses a medical condition, makes a surgical error, performs unnecessary surgery, misreads or ignores lab results, fails to recognize symptoms, fails to order proper testing, or prematurely discharges a patient.

To pursue a malpractice claim, the plaintiff must prove the standard of care wasn’t met and resulted in significant damages — including disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering and hardship, or past and future medical bills.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to medical malpractice, don’t wait to take action. The sooner you build your case, the easier it will be to hold the responsible party accountable. For professional and experienced assistance, contact The Law Offices of F. Craig Wilkerson Jr. in Rock Hill, Fort Mill, Lancaster, or Union at (803)-324-7200.

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Most Common Medical Malpractice Situations

medical malpractice causes

Medical accidents cause between 65,000 and 200,000 deaths per year. Of that number, 25,000 to 120,000 are the result of medical malpractice. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been affected by medical negligence, it may be helpful to understand the most common causes and circumstances of medical malpractice cases.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are the most common causes of medical malpractice claims. Between 26 to 63 percent of claims in primary care are due to diagnostic mistakes. The most common missed diagnoses in adults are heart attacks and cancer, especially lymphoma, breast cancer and melanoma. Other common mistakes include underestimating the severity of a fracture or confusing similar diseases such as celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of a serious condition can lead to the patient missing crucial treatment.

Medication Errors

Medication error is the second most common medical error, affecting around 1.5 million people in the United States per year and representing 5.6 to 20 percent of claims in primary care. Medication errors are sometimes the result of misdiagnosis when the doctor prescribes medication for a condition the patient does not have. Medication errors can also occur when a doctor prescribes a patient the wrong medication or the wrong dose, or fails to inform the patient of the drug’s side effects.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors account for one third of all inpatient medical malpractice cases. Common surgical errors include operating on the wrong patient or body part, puncturing internal organs, leaving surgical instruments in the body or the use of unsanitary surgical tools. These errors are often committed by doctors who are sleep-deprived or overworked.

Misuse of Anesthesia

Anesthesia errors are often even more dangerous than surgical errors, potentially causing brain damage or death. Anesthesiologists can misuse anesthesia by using too much or failing to check a patient’s medical history for potential complications. Other errors can occur if the anesthesiologist does not give a patient correct preoperative instructions, fails to monitor a patient’s vital signs, uses defective equipment or uses equipment incorrectly.

Mistakes During Pregnancy and Childbirth

There are many opportunities for medical errors during pregnancy and childbirth. OB-GYNs are the most frequently sued type of physician, with around 20 percent of all medical malpractice cases filed against them. Common errors during prenatal care include failing to identify birth defects or ectopic pregnancies, and failing to diagnose a contagious disease in the mother. Potential errors during childbirth include responding inappropriately to fetal distress, failing to anticipate birth complications and incorrect use of equipment such as forceps.

Do You Need a South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorney?

Medical malpractice can result in injury, higher medical bills, as well as stress and frustration. If you or a loved one are the victim of a medical error, you may be able to receive compensation. Medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Firm of F. Craig Wilkerson, Jr. can review your medical records, evaluate standards of care and contact medical experts to help you get a fair settlement.

Schedule your free case evaluation today or call us at: