Physician Healthcare Law

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit | 6 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

July 30, 2020

Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit | 6 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, I am not a financial advisor or an attorney. You have to reach out to your attorney for legal advice. The information presented here is purely for educational and entertainment purposes. These are my personal opinions and do not represent the opinions of my employer. 


What is Medical Malpractice Litigation?

Introduction to Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Medical malpractice case requires that the doctor owed a legal duty to the patient, and the level of care under the circumstances led to the doctor’s alleged negligence in healthcare. To prove that a doctor owed a legal duty of patient care, the patient must first be able to demonstrate that a doctor-patient relationship existed at the time the alleged medical malpractice occurred. In treating a patient, a doctor must have a skill of average healthcare provider who practices the similar specialty. In this blog you will learn about medical malpractice lawsuit, specifically 6 more frequent patient allegations in the medical malpractice claims.


The medical standard of care is also said to act as the first element of a medical malpractice claim. Once the appropriate standard of care is established, the defendant’s (doctor) failure to provide standard of care that in turn resulting in injury to the plaintiff (patient) are the next elements that has to be established in a successful medical malpractice lawsuit or claim.


The information presented below has been gathered from two thoroughly performed research studies by The Doctors Company and Cooperative of American Physicians. Together, these studies evaluated 484 claims against hospitalists that closed. 


This is one of the 5 blog posts on how to avoid medical malpractice lawsuit or claims. In this series, the next blog posts discuss the risk mitigation strategies for physicians to avoid having a medical malpractice lawsuit, top 6 circumstances contributing to patient injury, medical malpractice lawsuit – 6 most common medical malpractice claims, along with the severity scale for patient injury.



Medical Malpractice Lawsuit 

6 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit


(1) Wrong/Delay/Failure to Diagnose

These allegations arose when the patient’s condition was wrongly diagnosed – there was a delay or failure to diagnosis, which was detrimental to the patient’s health. The conditions that frequently involved failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis include:

  • Intestinal Disorders such as Obstruction, Perforation, and Vascular Insufficiency (16%)
  • Cerebral Artery Occlusion and Acute Cerebral Vascular Accident (CVA) (7%)  
  • Acute Myocardial Infarction (MI) and Cardiac Arrest (6%)
  • Sepsis and Toxic Shock Syndrome (5%)
  • Pulmonary Embolism (PE) (5%)
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess (4%) 
  • Lung Cancer (4%)
  • Viral and Bacterial Pneumonia (3%) 
  • Subacute and Acute Endocarditis (3%) 
  • Aortic Dissection or Aneurysm (3%)


(2) Improper Management of Treatment

This allegation is associated with decisions about the patient’s care after diagnosis. Examples include improper treatment of the following conditions:

  • Venous thrombosis in patients with risk factors for thrombosis, but was not on prophylaxis  
  • Pyelonephritis
  • DIC and loss of lower extremities
  • Inadequate assessments of foot and decubitus ulcers resulting in sepsis and inadequate management of diabetic patients resulting in ketoacidosis

In some of these cases, the patient was not evaluated or managed for a specific period of time that experts considered excessive.


(3) Medication-Related Error

This allegation was brought out in a number of such situations: 

  • Respiratory failure caused by excessive doses of narcotics
  • Sepsis or loss of limb from lack of antibiotics or delay in sepsis protocols
  • Toxicity resulting from a failure to monitor medications (such as gentamicin and vancomycin) 
  • Retroperitoneal hematomas and bleeding from various sites (resulting from failure to discontinue anticoagulants prior to surgery)

In some cases, multiple system failures led to an injury or death.


(4) Unwarranted Management or Delay in Medication or Treatment Procedure

Examples of unwarranted performance allegations include:

  • Placement of central IV lines resulting in damage to other vessels, attempts to intubate patients resulting in esophageal intubation or causing tracheal lacerations or perforations.
  • Patients also alleged delays in treatments or procedures, including delayed transfusion for gastrointestinal bleeding resulting in hypovolemia and chest tube placement for pneumothorax that was delayed until after the patient suffered respiratory arrest.


(5) Inadequate Treatment

  • One best example is when a patient’s cardiac medications are not addressed adequately prior to transfer or discharge, resulting in MI or cardiac arrest. 
  • Other examples include failure to treat urinary tract infections leading to sepsis, failure to treat diabetic ketoacidosis resulting in dehydration and renal failure, and lack of treatment for cardiac tamponade leading to cardiac arrest.


(6) Inadequate Monitoring of Patients Physiologic Status

  • Patients with cardiac symptoms not being monitored on telemetry, eventually patients unfortunately suffered cardiac arrest. 
  • Brain damage resulting from failure to monitor patients who experience hypoglycemia following changes to their insulin orders.
  • Respiratory arrest in patients clinically recognized as having obstructive sleep apnea who were prescribed narcotic pain treatments.


Although most of the content presented in this blog post seems pretty basic, the goal of this blog post is to highlight the importance of topics that often fall through the cracks, and eventually get physicians and patients in trouble. I hope that you picked up at least a few key points from this article (medical malpractice lawsuit – 6 most common medical malpractice claims), to include them in your practice. Practice thoroughly, keep your patient safe, and you stay safe!


In addition to the this blog post (Medical Malpractice Lawsuit – 6 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims), please also read the rest of the blog articles in the same series: 10 Best Risk Mitigation Strategies for Physicians to Avoid Having a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit, Top 6 Circumstances Contributing to Patient Injury, Medical Malpractice Lawsuit – 6 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims, along with the Patient Injury Severity Scale.


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Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Legal Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. I am not a legal and/or investment advisor. This is my personal blog, and all information found here, including any ideas, opinions, views, predictions, forecasts, commentaries, suggestions, or stock picks, expressed or implied herein, are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as personal investment advice. These are my views, it is not a production of my employer, nor is it affiliated with any broker/dealer or registered investment advisor. While the information provided is believed to be accurate, it may include errors or inaccuracies. To the maximum extent permitted by law, PhysicianEstate disclaims any and all liability in the event any information, commentary, analysis, opinions, advice and/or recommendations prove to be inaccurate, incomplete or unreliable, or result in any investment or other losses. You should consult with an attorney or other professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. Your use of the information on the website or materials linked from the Web is at your own risk. 

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Authored by Harsha Moole, M.D., MBBS

Hey there! I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. PhysicianEstate is my brain child and passion project. I run this platform to empower entrepreneurially motivated physicians to make financially educated investment decisions and discuss asset protection strategies. Lots of important but free content here and here! If you have any questions or if you are interested in partnering with me, let’s connect!

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