Updated: Feb 16
135 patients lost their lives due to Medical Malpractice in India in 2020*.
Patients who go to a doctor for treatment trust the professional with their lives. People consider the medical profession noble because it saves lives.
It is not possible for doctors to treat every case that comes their way. But, sometimes patients suffer harm or even lose their lives. It often happens because of negligence on the behalf of doctors, the medical staff, or even the doctor. Imagine how disheartening it must be for the patient and their family. A professional they trust the lives of their loved ones ends up harming them.
Many cases of medical malpractice are reported each day in the country. Now that we have figured out that medical negligence is more common than you think it is. But, what is Medical Malpractice? What are some common types of these cases? Now that we have stepped into my expert domain, let's find out a little in detail.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Sometimes medical professionals fail to deliver on medical and ethical standards. When such negligence harms a patient, then the incident becomes a case of medical malpractice. It is often alternatively called medical negligence. In these cases, the actions are usually out of the ordinary of what a well-trained medical professional is expected to do. It is one of those unfortunate cases when one even loses the life or health of a loved one. That too, because the doctors became the direct medium to risk the patient's life.
It can be very confusing for a patient to know if something is medical malpractice or an inevitable side effect of a medical procedure. In some cases, the patient's family wrongfully blames the doctor for inevitable consequences.
To protect sincere professionals, people must be taught about the common cases of medical malpractice.
What are some common types of Medical Malpractice?
There can be many types of medical malpractice cases. It is very easy to confuse cases of human error with medical malpractice. This is why it is important to stay aware of the common cases of medical negligence, and what differentiates them from human errors. Let’s take a look!
Surgical errors are the ones with a very narrow grey area. There is a very low chance that a skilled medical professional commits a huge surgical error. We are talking about errors like leaving surgical equipment inside the patient or performing the wrong surgery on a patient. Surgical errors can be life-threatening, so it is important to report them.
They are usually found in cases when a professional with less experience performs the surgery without guidance.
Failure to Treat
This is a category of medical malpractice that is unhelpfully broad spectrum. This is also where many doctors are wrongfully reported for medical malpractice.
How do you determine whether a medical professional failed to treat the patient?
There are obvious cases like discharging the patient sooner than advised. Or, when the standard of care is not followed. These are definitely cases of medical negligence.
But, there are also cases when doctors try their best to treat a patient but they fail. Sometimes, in such cases, the family starts blaming the professionals due to grief and anger. This is wrong. It is important for people to stop and ensure that they are victims of medical negligence, before blaming others.
There are two types of prescription errors that are commonly reported.
Sometimes, the doctor prescribes an incorrect dosage or the wrong medicine to the patient. This can be in a scenario where the doctor is not experienced enough.
In other scenarios, a doctor with ill intentions prescribes a harmful drug to the patient. Wait for a Part II soon. Both cases can cause severe harm to the patient and must be reported.
It is impossible for anyone to be perfect. We should not expect doctors to know the cure for every disease. It is a medical professional’s responsibility to put in the best effort and help a patient.
People turn towards doctors in times of need and place their trust in the profession. If such cases become common, then people will stop trusting medical professionals.
As a Medical Professional lawyer myself, I won't advise staying ignorant of the issue. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a very commonly reported case in the country. To protect yourself and your family members, it is important that you know about the most common types of Medical malpractice. In this blog, we have only touched base with just some of them.
Found the blog insightful? This is a whole world in itself. Stay tuned for Medical Malpractice Part II to know more about common cases of medical malpractice and negligence.
Do you also want to know how you can protect yourself from them? Tell me in the comments below and I will include it.
The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.