There are several types of medical negligence errors that can lead to complications and injury for the patient. In these cases, the patient is often able to file a medical negligence lawsuit against the medical professional. Among others, medical negligence errors may include incidents such as medication errors, childbirth injuries, unnecessary surgery, and diagnosis errors.

Medical negligence errors occur when a patient does not receive the proper standard of care from a medical professional. The standard of care in treatment is defined as the reasonable level of care that patients are expected to receive in various situations and fields of medicine. Specifically, medical negligence errors involve carelessness or negligence on the part of the medical practitioner. In a medical negligence lawsuit, the patient alleges that the medical negligence error in question was the cause of the patient’s injury.

Medication Errors

It is estimated that roughly 1.5 patients per year are affected by medication errors. Medication errors can cause a number of complications. The most common types of medication errors involve dosage of medications. In incorrect dosage cases, the patient may not be cured of the original condition due to too little medication. Adversely, the patient may develop additional symptoms due to a medication excess.

Medication errors may also include:

  • Malfunctions in medical equipment which may result in dosage errors
  • Incorrect medication due to a misdiagnosed medical condition
  • A patient receiving another patient’s medication
  • The incorrect medication being prescribed or administered on-site, such as a hospital or doctor’s office

Childbirth Injuries

Childbirth injuries are injuries sustained by a fetus shortly prior to or during labor. Childbirth injuries can be the result of a number of factors, including medical negligence errors on the part of doctors and nurses. Childbirth injuries can also occur naturally, as a result of complications in the mother’s or infant’s health.

Childbirth injuries can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Birth asphyxiation
  • Forceps injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Brachial plexus
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Klumpke’s palsy

Unnecessary Surgery

Unnecessary surgery occurs when a patient undergoes a surgical procedure that is not crucial for maintaining or restoring health. It is estimated that unnecessary surgery may account for up to 20 percent of surgical procedures in certain medical specialties. Common forms of unnecessary surgery include hysterectomies, knee replacements, cesarean section, and cardiac stents.

High-risk Procedures

Unnecessary surgery may become more complicated during high-risk procedures, thus more prone to medical negligence errors. As indicated by the term, high-risk procedures pose an innately higher risk of complication than other, more typical procedures. High-risk procedures can range from invasive heart surgeries to diagnostic procedures such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

Retained Surgical Objects

Retained surgical objects occur when medical tools and supplies are accidentally left in the patient’s body during surgery. Retained surgical objects can include gauze, sponges, needles, forceps, scissors, and other instruments used during surgery. If left untreated, sharper objects can cause blood vessel and organ perforation. Sponges and gauzes may collect bacteria and cause deadly infection.


Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose can have a severe impact on the patient’s health. When this occurs, the patient may lose a window of opportunity to receive treatment for time-sensitive or life-threatening conditions. Additionally, misdiagnosis can lead to a series of other complications, as the patient may undergo unnecessary medical treatment for a non-existing condition. Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, and failure to diagnose claims account for a significant number of medical negligence errors leading to patient complaints or lawsuits.

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Maughan, P. J. "Medical Negligence and The Law." British Journal of Surgery 88.7 (2001): 899-900. Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

Schneider, Mary Ellen. "Childbirth injuries drop sharply." OB GYN News July 2009: 47. Academic OneFile. Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

Welch, H G, Lisa Schwartz, and Steve Woloshin. Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 2011. Print.