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. 

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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