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What Is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when medical treatment falls below expected standards. If a patient becomes injured as a result of medical negligence, that patient might file a lawsuit claiming medical malpractice. If a patient dies, the family might then file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The most common type of medical negligence involves surgery, but it can happen with any nurse, physician, medical technician, or medical facility. The different types of medical negligence are almost endless. Here are some examples:

Damage to a neighboring organ during surgery.
A wrong diagnosis that leads to no treatment for the condition or the incorrect treatment for the condition.
A doctor who tells a patient that he or she is okay, causing a delay in treatment that eventually leads to injury. This is especially dire if an illness is progressive, such as cancer.
A dentist whose negligent treatment causes the patient to lose teeth.
An incorrect medication or the prescription of a medication in a harmful dosage. This can be negligence on the part of a doctor prescribing the medication, a nurse administering the medication, or a pharmacist.
Unnecessary surgery that results, for example, in the inability of the patient to have children.
A botched cosmetic procedure that causes an injury or a severely displeasing result.
A medical instrument accidentally left inside a patient during surgery.
Mistakes on a medical chart that lead to incorrect medical procedures or medications.
Improper or ineffective anesthesia administered prior to surgery.
A mistake made during childbirth that leads to the death of the infant or permanent injury to the infant, such as brain damage. Cerebral palsy is often a result of this kind of medical negligence.

The Difficulty of “Causation”

In order for a patient to have a medical malpractice claim for medical negligence, he or she has to prove (1) that the medical professionals had a duty to provide a standard of care and failed to do so, (2) that the patient suffered an injury or injuries, and (3) that the injury was caused by the alleged medical negligence.

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