The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice


  • Out of 4,000 physicians surveyed, 48% said they had been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Surgeons and Ob/Gyns were the most named professionals in medical malpractice lawsuits.
  • 49% of these physicians have been named in a medical malpractice lawsuit between two and five times.

When you make an appointment with a doctor, you assume that you will be diagnosed and treated appropriately. When your physician tells you that you need surgery, you expect to be put under, have a procedure, and wake up with the issue solved, if not at least improved. Unfortunately, people don’t always have a positive experience with medical professionals.

A medical malpractice case arises when a patient is not provided with the currently accepted standard of care by a doctor, nurse or another medical professional. Mistakes are made in only a small number of cases which is good news unless it happens to you.

It would be fair to think that once a mistake is made, it wouldn’t be made again. It’s not necessarily the case. It seems that the same medical mistakes are made repeatedly, causing patients to seek remedy in a court of law. Let’s take a closer look at medical malpractice.

Elements Necessary for Medical Malpractice

It’s important to note before we talk about any mistakes that certain elements must be present for your Mobile medical malpractice attorney to move forward with a case. A mistake doesn’t always constitute malpractice.

The elements are:

  • There must have been a relationship established between the medical provider and patient.
  • The medical provider had a duty of care and failed to perform in accordance with that duty.
  • The patient was injured or harmed and sustained damages.
  • The injury was a direct result of the medical provider’s negligence or error.

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

The Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice infographic

View/Download PDF

The most common types of medical malpractice are misdiagnosis, childbirth injuries, medication errors, anesthesia errors and surgical errors. It’s not to say that errors or negligence aren’t present in other situations, but the majority of medical malpractice cases center around one of these reasons.

1. Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

You visit a doctor because you don’t feel well. You sit with the doctor, discuss your medical history and your current symptoms. The doctor hands you a diagnosis and a prescription. The troubles begin when your symptoms don’t get better and, in some cases, get worse. You may have been misdiagnosed.

Misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical malpractice. If you have ever searched online for what disease or condition has a headache, for example, as a symptom, you’ll have dozens of results on your hands. There are several conditions that have common symptoms and it’s not always apparent which condition you have. This is why it is so easy to receive a diagnosis that isn’t correct.

Another issue is delayed diagnosis. When you aren’t diagnosed with anything at all immediately but later diagnosed with something that should have been treated as soon as symptoms appeared, you could suffer serious harm. Remember that it is always your right to get a second opinion, even if you don’t believe you have a condition that would be considered life-threatening.

2. Childbirth Injuries

There are a number of injuries that can be caused to both mother and child when birth injuries occur. An error or negligence on the part of a medical professional may occur at any time during the birthing process or, in other cases, during the prenatal care of the mother.

A medical professional may fail to identify birth defects or misdiagnose a condition in the mother prior to the birth of the infant. There may be an error made during the birthing process itself. It doesn’t matter when the negligence occurred. If a child or mother is injured during pregnancy or labor and delivery, a medical malpractice case may arise.

3. Medication Errors

According to a decades-old study, medication errors affect about 1.5 million people every year. The prescription given may be incorrect, the medication could be inappropriate for the condition, or a drug may be given to the wrong patient.

A medication error, however, most often occurs when a patient gets too little or too much of a drug. The doctor may write the wrong dose on the prescription, a nurse may give the wrong amount or a machine like an IV pump may malfunction.

4. Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia mistakes can be very dangerous. The slightest error by an anesthesiologist can have devastating effects on a patient. An error can occur when a patient’s full medical history is not taken, when preoperative instructions aren’t given or when too much or too little anesthesia is administered during a procedure.

5. Surgical Mistakes

Surgical mistakes are perhaps the most frightening for patients. When you are put under anesthesia for a procedure, you have no control over the situation. This can cause a great deal of anxiety and, thankfully, most people wake up and things are just fine.

In other cases, the wrong surgery is performed, nerves are severed, medical instruments are left behind and more. Surgical mistakes have the potential to be incredibly serious and sometimes fatal.

Again, it is important to remember that not every mistake made by a medical professional will lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. When an error is remedied before it causes harm, it is rare that a medical malpractice case will be initiated. When a patient sustains harm at the hands of a medical professional, they have every right to seek a remedy for the damages they incur.


Responsibility and accountability – even for the powerful – are rooted into the core of our legal system. This country’s founders knew that a democracy needs a court system that empowers people to protect themselves by holding the powerful to account. That’s why the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution guarantees each person the right to a trial by jury. The founders feared unaccountable power in the form of the King of England against his “subjects”.  21st Century America may not have a king, but it does have billion dollar corporations touching every part of every person’s life. These corporations now seek the kind of unaccountable power our founders sought to protect against, and they’re seeking that power by destroying your constitutional right to a trial by jury.

Politicians who are in the pockets of large corporations and insurance companies have devised a plan specifically aimed at destroying our right to hold those in power accountable for their misdeeds. Their plan is to enact laws that will all but destroy your right to use the judicial system to protect yourself. They have introduced bills which, if passed, will enact arbitrary changes to courts all across the country, including:

  • Limiting compensation for injuries caused by medical professionals. Including doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and medical device manufacturers, to $250,000.00, regardless of how much that injury devastated your life or the extent of malfeasance by the medical professional or company.  The Alabama legislature has more than once passed bills to cap damages in medical negligence cases.  Each time, Alabama’s Supreme Court has said the caps violate the right to trial by jury and declared it unconstitutional.  The reasoning is clear- that right to a jury of your peers inviolate.  In addition there is no medical costs emergency.  According to CMC, Medical negligence costs are only 0.2% of our total health care costs.   The Harvard School of Medicine found that 18% almost 1/5  of patients are harmed during the course of their medical care.  Health care costs will increase with caps according to a Northwestern University and the University of Illinois study.  I have articles I can send you about these studies.
  • Eliminating class-action law suits, which would essentially destroy the ability to bring the kinds of cases that keep us safe. If you and a number of other people are damaged by the action of a corporation, instead of having a streamlined method to address all the claims in one action, each would have to retain lawyers and pursue the remedy. It would not be cost effective for you or the defendant. Check out the xarelto lawsuit updates.
  • Eliminate Individual States Law regarding lawsuits and forcing all cases to Federal Court.  This bill will take away our states’ rights for remedies and clog the already clogged federal system.
  • Allowing insurance companies to make “payments” rather than paying full compensation.  They want to spread your compensation over time.  Why?  Not to help you but to contain their costs- and their obligations.

Therefore, we must tell our government to put people first and stop trampling on our rights.  Javerbaum Wurgaft has been protecting citizens of New Jersey and New York by demanding that everyone is treated fairly, regardless of gender, race, or economic status. Please join us in demanding that Congress do the same. We must band together and contact our representatives to demand they say NO to these outrageous attacks on our rights. Go to each link below and tell them NO!

Outbound Links

Billy Cunningham

Billy Cunningham

Damage Caps on Medical Negligence Is Not the Answer

The health care reform has now been turned by the Republican party away from real reform in the health care arena to an effort to keep consumers from being treated fairly in the courtroom. They have presented a bill that will limit damages to persons injured or killed as the result of medical malpractice.

The proposal includes nursing home resident who are abused or neglected. Most people do not think of nursing home cases as being medical malpractice.

In Alabama, the Medical Liability Act includes nursing homes in its definition of medical providers whose negligence is covered under the Act. That act has for about 20 years directed how we on behalf of nursing home residents present our cases. Most states do not have the same restrictions. For example, we cannot even tell the jury about the other acts of similar abuse or neglect that the nursing home has done to other residents even if they have been cited by the State for that same kind of abuse.

Most of my practice over the past 23 years of my 35 year career has been representing nursing home residents. I began thinking of how I would tell clients and/or their families that nursing home neglect and abuse was included in the medical negligence bill proposed. How do I explain that injuries to the elderly, vulnerable members of our society are limited? Here are people who cannot protect themselves, who rely on nursing homes for their safety and well being, and to provide a quality of life that Congress knows what the limit of those injuries are? I thought of all the cases that I have handled involving injuries in nursing homes. The following are actual examples of victims of nursing home neglect and abuse that under the standard proposed by the Republicans would be limited in any award against the nursing home that caused the injuries or death the award.

Mr. A. who went in a nursing home for a 21 days rehabilitation after hip surgery and developed a pressure sore so big on his leg that the leg had to be amputated- personal injury case.

Mr. A. who had a grapefruit sized vaginal malignant tumor that the nursing home never knew about- death case.

Mrs. B who was overdosed with psychotropic medications to keep her quiet and while trying to escape the torture fell in a bush and lost an eye. After this incident she was moved to a nursing home that properly cared for and weaned her off the psychotropic medications. She was discharged and the last I heard was playing the slot machines in Biloxi. Personal injury case.

Mr. C., a smoker, who was strapped in a wheelchair and unwatched burned to death when a lighter caught his clothing on fire.

Mr. D., an Alzheimer patient in a ‘special unit’ who despite no other physical diseases developed multiple state 4 pressure sores, contractures and severe weight loss – death case.

Mr. E. who was beaten to death by another nursing home resident who had previously beaten other resident. No precaution was taken to protect any of these residents.

Mr. F. who was demented and known to have a desire to leave the facility and fell from an open window. Death case.

These are the type of injuries and damages the Republican proposal will cap or limit. The various studies of the true effect that medical negligence lawsuits have on the cost of medical care do not support limiting damages to our elderly, vulnerable nursing home residents. They should be fairly compensated.

Off-Label suit by drug manufacturer

The FDA rules prohibit manufacturers from advertizing drugs for conditions and in dosages for which the drugs have not been tested. Those rules protect the public by requiring that pharmaceutical companies do the clinical studies necessary to support that drugs are safe and effective before marketing the drugs. Allergan Inc., the maker of Botox has sued the FDA in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claiming that the FDA’s off-label marketing restrictions violate Allegran’s constitutional right to free speech.

Health care in the US will suffer if manufacturers are allowed to market drugs for untested uses and in dosages that have not proven to be safe. If the suit is successful promotional materials will inevitably provide a strong sales pitch but contain disclaimers providing in essence that you prescribe or take the drug at your own risk.

If Alergan’s suit is successful the burden of protecting patients from unsafe drugs will shift to the physician. Busy physicians simply do not have the time to carefully parse advertisements to determine what conditions and in what dosages the drug has proven effective. The drug companies have the incentive, resources and moral obligation to get FDA approval before telling doctors and the public that a drug is save.