Many errors that constitute medical malpractice occur in an inpatient setting, meaning they happen while a patient is staying in a hospital or other care facility to which they were formally admitted. However, negligence by a medical professional can also occur during outpatient treatment, often resulting in equally dangerous and potentially deadly outcome for patients.
Before you can file suit over harm caused by a healthcare provider’s reckless or careless behavior, it is crucial to identify exactly what type of error resulted in your injuries. Here are some common outpatient errors that physicians in New York have been known to commit which can cause significant damage to patients.
Misdiagnoses and Failures to Diagnose
Time is arguably the most valuable commodity in medicine, so it is often crucial for medical professionals to correctly identify a patient’s problems as quickly as possible. If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient through recklessness or carelessness, rather than an earnest mistake, that patient may have grounds to file a malpractice lawsuit for any harm they suffer as a result.
Similarly, a doctor failing to diagnose a condition altogether could also justify civil litigation in some cases. After all, a patient cannot seek appropriate treatment if they are not aware that anything is wrong with them. Especially with conditions like cancer, failing to address problems in their early stages can have disastrous consequences.
Failing to Conduct or Interpret Tests Correctly
A routine trip to the doctor’s office often includes blood work in addition to a general physical exam, and more complex outpatient procedures might involve a host of other tests like MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays. Unfortunately, while most modern medical tests are fairly accurate if conducted correctly, a person must still interpret the results of those tests. This means a human error could lead to dire patient outcomes.
If a specialist is negligent in their interpretation of medical test results, and fails to identify a dangerous condition, a malpractice lawsuit may be warranted if the patient suffers harm because they did not get the right treatment. Likewise, if a physician conducts a test incorrectly, or in a way that contaminates the results, they could be liable for any ensuing failure to identify a harmful health condition.
After mistakes in diagnostic testing, medication errors are the second most common form of outpatient medical error. Since modern medicines are delicate blends of multiple chemicals meant to produce specific results, even the slightest miscalculation in dosage or drug could cause severe—and sometimes fatal—harm to a patient.
However, establishing liability for a medication error can sometimes be complicated since multiple parties could bear liability. For example, a patient could receive the wrong drug because their prescribing doctor wrote the wrong prescription, a pharmacist misread the doctor’s instructions, or there was a defect in a particular batch of pharmaceutical products.
A qualified medical malpractice lawyer could discuss legal options with an individual patient based on their unique situation.