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Seven Reasons Doctors Are Sued For Medical Malpractice

Residents along the Outer Banks enjoy a great lifestyle with many amenities. Having a beautiful beach is one of them. However, when it comes to healthcare, your options are limited. There are smaller regional hospitals on the island, such as the Outer Banks Hospital, but when it comes to serious health issues it is almost a mandate to be transported to larger Virginia Beach, VA or Norfolk, VA hospitals.

Typically with all this shuffling going around in modern healthcare not only does the patient lose a little recuperative care, but there is often a mismanagement of details among the various physicians. This can cause some errors to occur.

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Approximately 100,000 people per year die from medical errors caused by doctors alone. According to Dr. RJ Roberts of the University of Wisconsin Medical School there are 7 reasons why medical errors occur:

1. Failure to Obtain Informed Consent: This allegation stems from the failure of the physician to ensure the patient is fully informed of expected outcomes, potential risks and reasonable alternatives to the recommended course of action advised by the doctor resulting in damages to the patient.

2. Cancer Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose or a Delay in Diagnosis: This is especially true of breast cancer patients. Doctors who rely on false negative mammogram studies rather than on patient complaints and following up appropriately may cause harm to the patient and be liable for medical malpractice. Approximately 29 percent of screening mammograms return false negative results.

3. Physician Malpractice Resulting From Negligent Procedures or Surgical Errors: Physicians do not necessarily have to be performing unfamiliar procedures for such a medical malpractice suit to ensue. Many physicians are sued because they performed procedures they are trained for when the doctor was not alert due to physical exhaustion or mental distraction. In these circumstances, sleep deprivation or mental stress may cause a deficiently performed procedure leading to patient complications.

4. Wrong Diagnosis and Negligent Misdiagnosis of Fracture or Trauma: This medical malpractice claim occurs when a doctor assumes that a fracture is merely a sprain or other minor injury without follow through investigation with x-rays or other proper diagnostic tests. Dependent on the location of the fracture, this can have severe consequences, including loss of a limb.

5. Delay in Diagnosis or Failure to Consult in a Timely Manner: A doctor who is sued for failure to consult in a timely manner has hesitated too long before making a referral and the patient has suffered adverse repercussions as a result. Within a reasonable amount of visits to the family doctor, the patient should be referred to a specialist if the family doctor is having difficulty pronouncing a diagnosis or symptoms are not improving or worsening despite treatment.

6. Medication Errors or Medication Malpractice Resulting From Negligent Drug Treatment: This is the third leading cause of death. Medical error or negligence in prescribing medications may be the cause of 225,000 deaths per year. Lack of patient education about the medications prescribed is a component of negligent drug treatment. Prescription drug malpractice claims can also result from a doctor’s poor handwriting on the prescription order and misinterpretation by a pharmacist.

7. Birth Injury Malpractice or Negligent Maternity Care Practice: The two most common birth defect or birth injury medical malpractice claims arise from excessive use of oxytocin, specifically if the baby is experiencing distress, and the doctor’s failure to ensure their patient is covered by another physician informed about the patient’s clinical history should the primary doctor be unavailable.


  1. Gravatar for Christopher wrote about the problems and offered no solutions except to call a malpractice attorney after your health is in danger.

    The answer to the shuffling around causing errors is for the empowered patient to find a "physcian of record" as primary care giver to serve as "quaterback" to the rest of medical specialists on the patient's team, not elect an attorney to sue for negligence afterwards. We have excellent care here on the Outer Banks, informed and educated health care recipients who can manage their choices, and helicopters to get to specialists quickly if there is an emergency. I suppose the helicopter eliminates some amblulances for you to chase. What a lame concept (shuffling back and forth from VA to OBX)as being another way to assign blame for people's own mismanagement of their own health. People need to take personal responsibility, not find new reasons to sue doctors. When the Doctor's are grossly negligent...then you should be called.

  2. Gravatar for Jim Lewis

    I want to thank Christopher for the thoughtful comment. It has touched upon a few further thoughts that I think are important and should be taken into consideration...

    The lack of a trauma 1 facility does create real hassle for OBX families. I spoke to a man whose child was hurt in Hatteras and getting back and forth to Norfolk was a real financial strain. Many places in rural NE NC are under served. Try finding an orthopedist if you don't have health insurance there. I have seen seriously injured folks not get needed post-inpatient and surgical follow-up treatment because of the cross-border "shuffle."

    The new tech with medical records on computers may help the smooth transfer of trauma patients back home to PCP's.

    The post was written as information intended to empower families to know what to look out for to help the hospitals not to mess up. The fault is not the patients but is the need for the industry to police and improve itself better. Finally, we do not sue unless the neglect is extreme and the injury severe and catastrophic.

  3. Gravatar for J O'Hare VP med mal claims
    J O'Hare VP med mal claims

    Your list is redundant- The majority of cases stem from communication problems and/or fatigue. . The number of med mal deaths, yearly is a guess using a crystal ball as a ruler. One of the answers is to whittle down the 16% of the docs that cause 80% of the claims. This can be done thru testing. The next step is to get injured parties compensated thru arbitration. A Dr does not get a jury of peers, and at least 40% of compensation does not go to the injured party. The right answers to correct med mal are not palatable to those that complain it.

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