Common Forms of Medical Malpractice in Fairfax

The following  is taken from an interview with a Fairfax medical malpractice lawyer as they discuss the most common types of medical malpractice cases. For more information on filing a medical malpractice claim, call and schedule a consultation today.

What Are The Most Common Forms of Medical Malpractice Cases in Fairfax?

It really depends on the type of provider, the type of case, and the type of client. For instance, a lot of cases involve errors with radiology or with following up on what a radiologist identifies in a diagnostic image.  For example, let’s use an example of a delayed diagnosis of cancer. A radiology report, whether it’s an MRI or a CT scan or an x-ray,  is interpreted by a radiologist, who sends a report back to the ordering provider. If a radiology report describes some finding that would be suspicious for a mass or a cancerous lesion, that needs to have further testing done.

In this example, let’s say the radiologist identified something on an x-ray that might be cancerous and recommended that the treating physician do some follow-up testing. In such a case, if the treating providers failed for whatever reason to order that follow-up test, and missed the opportunity to detect and identify the cancer at an early stage, that patient could go years before the actual diagnosis. In misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer cases, the timing of the diagnosis and the timing of the missed diagnosis are paramount. If the patient would have had a strong chance of survival had the cancer been properly identified in the early stages, it’s possible that the delay in diagnosis might cost that patient their life.

In my example here, the radiologist did the right thing, but the treating physicians failed to either respond to the radiologist’s recommendations or just missed it altogether.

Other Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

Other than missed diagnosis of cancer, other types of common medical malpractice cases include surgical errors and medication errors. Doctors sometimes fail to check a chart to see if a patient actually has some contraindication meaning that a specific drug, procedure, or surgery should not be used because it could harm the patient. An example is if a patient is already on a medicine that would have an interaction with a different medicine that could be dangerous to the patient.

Medication Errors

Other medication errors occur where a physician fails to see on a patient’s chart that the patient has a drug allergy and the doctor prescribed a medication anyway and the patient has a reaction. Another example could be if a physician didn’t see the medications the patient was taking and prescribed another drug, for instance nitrates for chest pain and Viagra can be dangerous when combined. If you’re already taking nitrates for chest pain or coronary artery disease, you normally shouldn’t also be taking another vasodilator or an erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra.

Each person is different so it is important to consult with a medical professional, but this is a known, common drug interaction that can harm patients. Sometimes doctors don’t look at the full chart, they don’t see what a patient’s history is and they’re not aware of things that they should be aware of.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors occur when something goes wrong in surgery and a patient is harmed as a result. Not all surgical errors constitute malpractice, but many such errors do. This can occur if a surgeon is negligent in the performance of a surgery because they are in a hurry, they are lazy, or they simply are not experienced with that specific surgery. An example would be if a doctor fails to properly visualize the operative field and cuts the wrong structure, or if a doctor fails to identify and protect adjacent structures in the body. These are surgical errors that can occur if a doctor is negligent and can cause serious, debilitating harms to the patient.