Misdiagnosis may sound like a shocking and rare occurrence, but unfortunately it happens very frequently. In fact, errors related to diagnosis were the largest source of medical malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017 according to a study. However, a mistake of diagnosis in and of itself is not enough to make a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico. Making the correct diagnosis can be difficult and doctors are not required to be right every time they make a diagnosis.
Doctors can make mistakes by misunderstanding a patient’s symptoms, misinterpreting tests, or failing to thoroughly review a patient’s medical history. In order to have a misdiagnosis case, the patient must prove that the misdiagnosis led to injury and that the doctor failed to do what other doctors in a similar treatment situation would do.
2. Delayed Diagnosis
Another common medical mistake involves delayed diagnosis. Though a delayed diagnosis is similar to a missed diagnosis, it is not quite the same. A delayed diagnosis occurs when a patient’s condition is correctly diagnosed but not within a reasonable amount of time which leads to further harm or a degree of harm the he or she would not have suffered had the condition been diagnosed sooner. An NBC news article goes so far to say that “everyone” will suffer an incorrect or delayed diagnosis in their lifetime.
3. Surgical Errors
Most patients understand that there are risks that accompany any surgery. Doctors routinely discuss these risks with their patients who then sign surgical consent forms. However, even though patients consent to risks associated with the procedure, surgical error can still lead to a New Mexico medical malpractice claim.
Surgical errors commonly involve medical devices (tools, gauze, sponges) left inside the patient, surgery performed on the wrong body part, damage to organs, nerves or tissues during surgery, problems with anesthesia administration, and performing unnecessary surgery.
In malpractice cases involving surgical error, an experienced attorney will need to prove that the doctor deviated from the acceptable standard of care, the injuries resulted from that deviation, and the injuries or damages came from actions not reasonably covered under informed consent.
4. Failure to Treat
Failure to treat is often a result of a doctor having too many patients or being understaffed. Doctors may rush through an examination in order to move to the next appointment, fail to acknowledge a patient’s complaints and symptoms, or fail to order proper follow up testing or treatment with a specialist. When doctors put “profits over safety” malpractice can result. When a medical problem is left untreated, it can worsen and lead to additional injuries or even death. If you suspect that your doctor has failed to treat you properly, get a second opinion right away.
5. Childbirth Injuries
Though it may seem routine, childbirth – labor and delivery – is a complicated medical procedure that can quickly become dangerous to both mother and baby. Inadequate prenatal care is the biggest contributing factor to birth injuries. There are several issues that can arise during pregnancy that need to be closely monitored including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, fetal growth restriction, and infection. If any test is missed or condition goes unmonitored, it can lead to serious consequences for both baby and mother. With proper treatment and monitoring that meets the standard of care, most of these pregnancies can result in normal, healthy labor and delivery.
Negligence can also occur during childbirth. The practitioners should be prepared to respond to signs of fetal or maternal distress. Failure to respond to distress in a timely or appropriate manner can lead to birth injuries.
According to the CDC and US News, the United States maternal mortality rate – which measures the rate of deaths caused by pregnancy or child birth – is high compared to other developed countries and New Mexico is one of the 10 states with the highest maternal mortality rate.
6. Unnecessary Surgery
Doctors are financially incentivized to perform surgery. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors perform unnecessary surgeries knowing that the surgery will not better the life of their patient but will deepen their own pockets. Other times, doctors opt to perform surgery even when the benefits do not outweigh the risks. Invasive surgery should only be considered in cases where the patient will benefit from the surgery and the risks have been thoroughly evaluated and discussed. Patients should discuss nonsurgical options with their doctor and consider seeking a second opinion.
7. Prescription Drug Error
Prescription drug error is another common reason for medical malpractice. Without proper knowledge and attention, physicians can prescribe the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, incorrectly administer the medication, or fail to recognize the drugs interaction with another prescribed medication. Medication mix-ups are common in understaffed hospitals and nursing homes.
Experienced New Mexico Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Fight For You
If you suspect that you or a loved one are the victim of medical malpractice, it is imperative that you reach out to an experienced New Mexico law firm immediately. At Keller & Keller we offer free consultations and our team is prepared to analyze your medical malpractice claim. Remember that New Mexico law limits the amount of time you have to bring your case. If you fail to meet that time limit, you may be barred from recovery.