Slate's Law Blog Is it Important to Distinguish Between Types of Medical Errors?

If you were harmed after visiting a healthcare provider or seeking medical treatment within a healthcare facility, you may be wondering whether you are eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you have run searches on the internet for phrases like “medical mistake” and “patient injury,” you have likely encountered a range of materials that discuss different types of errors that can be made in the healthcare setting, and you may be unsure about the differences among these types of mistakes. After all, if a doctor makes a mistake, that doctor is liable, right?

In general, if a physician or another healthcare provider makes a mistake and that mistake results in a patient’s injury, that healthcare provider typically will be responsible. While the type of medical error the doctor or other healthcare provider makes may not determine whether or not you are eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, it can affect the type of evidence you will need to show in order to win your case. We want to tell you more about three common types of medical errors you might encounter when looking for more information about filing a lawsuit.

Learning About Medical Errors More Generally

A medical error, according to an article in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database, can be defined as “a preventable adverse effect of medical care, whether or not it is evident or harmful to the patient.” There are many different types of medical errors or mistakes that can occur in the healthcare setting, including but not limited to “adverse drug events and improper transfusions, misdiagnosis, under and over treatment, surgical injuries and wrong-site surgery, suicides, restraint-related injuries or death, falls, burns, pressure ulcers, and mistaken patient identities.”

As that article explains, the highest rates of medical mistakes tend to occur in “intensive care units, operating rooms, and emergency departments.” Yet ultimately, if a healthcare provider makes an error—which can constitute negligence—and the patient actually suffers an injury, then the patient often can file a lawsuit.

Are the Distinctions Between Types of Medical Errors Important for Patients Filing Claims?

If a medical error happens, why does it matter what type of medical error it is? Generally speaking, the type of medical error can make a difference when it comes to proving that the healthcare provider was negligent. Diagnostic, surgical, and medication errors are all types of medical mistakes. Yet they often involve different types of healthcare providers and different kinds of errors.

For example, surgical errors often involve mistakes like wrong-site surgery or leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body. In a medical malpractice lawsuit arising out of a surgical error, the patient will need to prove that another reasonable surgeon in the same or similar field would have acted differently. With medication mistakes, differently, a pharmacist or a prescribing physician might be at fault. A physician might have failed to review a patient’s chart before prescribing a drug to which the patient had allergies, or a pharmacist might have filled the wrong prescription. In either case, the injured patient would need to gather specific information to prove that the particular healthcare provider was negligent, and that the negligence caused the patient’s injuries.

Contact a Santa Fe Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Assistance

Were you injured because of a healthcare provider’s mistake? You could be eligible to file a claim for financial compensation. A medical malpractice lawyer in Santa Fe can evaluate your case today. Contact Slate Stern Law for more information about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Mexico.


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