Top Reasons for Medical Malpractice Complaints

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers, like all humans, occasionally make mistakes. Sadly, these mistakes can lead to their patients experiencing lifelong injury, pain, or death. Unfortunately, cases of medical malpractice are quite common. Yet, you may be surprised by the statistics regarding malpractice lawsuits. Continue reading to learn more.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider, facility, or doctor is negligent while treating a patient. This negligence results in the injury or death of that person. It is important to note that malpractice is not limited to one individual. Multiple people or facilities can be charged in a single medical malpractice lawsuit.

Top Five Medical Malpractice Complaints

The top five reasons that individuals file a malpractice claim are:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Surgery
  • Treatment
  • Obstetrics
  • Anesthesia/medication

Common Reasons for Errors

There are many reasons to file a medical malpractice claim including:

  • Lack of training  This includes new staff who haven’t had the proper training to handle a specific situation
  • Assigning tasks to inappropriate staff  This results from errors caused because the wrong person is handling an issue. One example would be a pharmacy technician making medication formulations instead of a trained pharmacist.
  • Rare illness  An illness rarely seen or studied can result in misdiagnosis because its symptoms closely match a more common illness.
  • Complexity of the health issue – If treatment for an illness is complex, it can lead to a higher risk of inaccurate treatment or diagnosis.
  • Age  Younger and older patients may have difficulty properly describing the signs and symptoms of the illness and what treatment helped ease those symptoms. This lack of effective communication can lead to medical errors.
  • Never Events – Never events refer to medical procedures that were harmful to patients, yet this harm was preventable. The wrong-site surgery, where a doctor performs surgery on the wrong part of the body, is a common “never event” that leads to malpractice lawsuits.
doctors standing in hallway discussing medical malpractice complaint

Quick Facts

A 2017 survey of 4,000 physicians revealed that 49% stated they were named in two to five lawsuits.

Harvard Health reported in 2019 that, although some medical malpractice cases involve minor injury, 80% of cases are related to severe patient injuries or death.

Medical errors combine to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine found that more than 250,000 people die each year from medical errors in the U.S.

Research compiled by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), a government database of all medical malpractice complaints and payments, showed that between 2009 and 2018, there were 12,414 cases of medical malpractice per year on average.

The NPDB also shows that, during those nine years, $38.5 billion was paid to victims of medical malpractice in the U.S.

In that same timeframe, the state of Alabama paid nearly $275 million in medical malpractice payouts.

When to Seek Help

Medical malpractice is much more than a doctor making a mistake during surgery. It can also include failure to recognize a chronic condition, lack of informed consent, and outdated equipment. 

It is important to act quickly when you or a loved one have been hurt due to malpractice. Most states, including Alabama, grant only a two-year period from the date of injury to file a claim. If you have lost a loved one or been injured due to medical malpractice, please call the experienced attorneys at Timberlake & League. We can help.