What is Medical Malpractice and How Does it Occur?

Surgery room

As a patient in a medical facility, it is reasonable that you expect the utmost care. You want your doctor to perform the necessary tests to properly diagnose your injury and/or condition, and provide the treatment options that fall in line with the care you need.

There are sometimes, however, when things don’t go as planned. There are issues at the medical facility with one or more parties, and it’s the patient who suffers as a result. This is a far too common incident and can be considered medical malpractice when the negligence of a medical professional causes a patient to either:

  • Suffer significant harm; or
  • Have a condition worsen due to lack of care.

In these situations, it’s imperative that the patient involved—or the family of a patient who is fatally injured—recognize what rights are available under personal injury law. Medical malpractice lawsuits can help bring closure, pursue compensation, obtain justice, and hold the medical professional responsible for his or her actions.

The different types of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to the following:

If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, call us today at (713) 396-5197.


Both misdiagnosis and missed diagnosis can have a serious impact on a patient, resulting in long-term problems. These negligent actions involve missing vital symptoms that could indicate a worsening or fatal condition and failing to provide the necessary care to help the patient treat the condition.

For instance, with misdiagnosis, the doctor may recognize symptoms that belong to both a terminal illness and one that only lasts a few days. Without properly testing the patient, the doctor provides the diagnosis of the lesser damaging illness. Later, they realize that the patient has the terminal illness; yet, by missing the initial diagnosis, they didn’t treat the condition in time.

This is more commonly the case when someone has cancer. If cancer is not treated in the early stages, it can worsen, and the prognosis shortens drastically. By the time doctors find the cancer after a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, the condition may be in the later stages and considered terminal. It may be too late for a cure.

Surgical Errors You May Encounter

Surgical errors can be some of the worst to encounter because they often leave the patient enduring physical pain and suffering. There are multiple types of surgical errors that can occur and each of them can have long-lasting injuries associated with them. These include:

  • Doctors performing the surgery on the wrong patient: Typically, this is a result of misdiagnosis or miscommunication. If the doctor doesn’t take the necessary steps to ensure he or she is speaking with the right patient, they may move forward with a procedure the patient does not need and can cause even further injuries.
  • Doctors performing the surgery on the wrong body part: Similar to the above, misdiagnosis or miscommunication can lead to the doctor performing surgery on the wrong part of a patient’s body.
  • Doctors causing internal organ damage: If during the surgery, the doctor punctures or cuts an incision to another organ or part of the body, it can result in serious damage, as well as internal bleeding that can lead to significant problems.
  • Anesthesiologists providing the wrong amount of medication: When a patient undergoes surgery, there are many times when they will be put under using anesthesia. Using too much can be dangerous for the patient but using too little can result in the patient feeling the surgery and enduring excruciating pain.

Surgical errors often leave the patient with even further damage than they had when they entered the hospital, requiring additional care, medication, treatment, and other expenses. It’s important for hospitals to get it right when it comes to diagnosis, treatment, and communication.

Pharmaceutical Errors

Medication can be a helpful treatment option for individuals enduring specific conditions, disorders, illnesses, diseases, injuries, and more. They often help to relieve symptoms, take away pain, or provide some kind of cure for infections and other bacteria.

However, it’s important for hospitals, doctors, and pharmacists to ensure they’re getting everything correct in the type of medication they’re prescribing, how much the patient should take, and how often. When a pharmaceutical error occurs, it’s often the patient who suffers as a result.

Some of the pharmaceutical errors that can occur include, but are not limited to the following:

  • A doctor may not check for allergic reactions with the patient and prescribe something that may cause a flare up
  • A doctor may prescribe the wrong medication based on a misdiagnosed condition
  • A doctor may write an incorrect dosage on the prescription—either too little where the condition continues, or too much which can result in an overdose
  • A doctor may fail to check for existing medications and understand how they may react with a newly prescribed medication

These all have the potential to cause serious harm for the patient.

Care Management Errors

When you are admitted into a hospital, they have a duty to provide you proper care. This also means knowing when you are unable to make decisions for yourself and which individuals are authorized to make decisions on your behalf and to whom you may be released.

One of the biggest issues with care management includes releasing a patient to an unauthorized party when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. The hospital doesn’t know if this person means to help or if they’re potentially harmful to the patient and only authorized individuals should be able to accept a patient at discharge.

Improper Testing

This goes hand in hand with misdiagnosis and often results in the wrong treatment being provided to a patient.

When a doctor fails to properly diagnose a patient, there are a few different things that can happen. First, the doctor may order the wrong tests and the root of the condition or injury may go undetected. Second, the wrong test may provide inaccurate information and the patient will either receive treatment they didn’t need, or they will go untreated, allowing the condition to worsen.

It’s important for medical professionals to ensure the tests they’re performing on patients fall in line with the symptoms displayed and what the patient is experiencing.

How to Move Forward After Medical Malpractice

While many patients who suffer from medical malpractice are worried that nothing can be done against a large corporation or insurance company, you should know that you do have rights. You should be able to pursue compensation for the damages you sustained as a result of a doctor’s negligence.

At Webster Vicknair MacLeod, we have a strong understanding of medical malpractice laws and how to prove liability in these complex issues. We work hard to protect your rights and help you understand what comes next so you can be as prepared as possible.

Our Houston medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to safeguard your best interests, going the extra mile to secure the most positive outcome possible. Trust in our team to be there for you whenever you need us most.

Call us today at (713) 396-5197 if you feel you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice. We offer free consultations to help you recognize your rights.

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