Patient vs Doctor: Biggest Reasons Doctors Get Sued For Medical Malpractice

Updated on August 18, 2020
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Do you know what the biggest fear of a doctor is? Most people think that losing a patient is the worst experience a doctor could ever have. Well, losing a patient to a condition such as cancer or another life-threatening condition is definitely devastating but the one thing that doctors fear the most are lawsuits… medical malpractice lawsuits, at that.

Doctors received years of education and training in the study and practice of medicine. They have to devote so many years to medicine because one mistake can mean the difference between life and death. 

This, of course, isn’t anything new to doctors; they’re fully aware of the responsibility and pressure that sits on their shoulders, and that’s why they take every safety precaution possible to ensure the safety of their patients. 

Unfortunately, doctors aren’t above the rest of the human race, and despite their prestigious title, they too make mistakes and ultimately cause harm to their patients, even when the harm was unintentional.

With medical malpractice, it can sometimes be hard to determine or even prove if a medical provider’s action is indeed malpractice. In order for a medical mistake to be determined as malpractice it must:

  • Bring harm or injury to the patient
  • Breach a medical standard of care

According to, between 15,000 to 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors every year. But the real question that needs to be answered is why? 

Why are there so many malpractice lawsuits filed against doctors every year?

Well, it’s safe to say that the standards and regulations in deems a particular act as malpractice varies between different countries and from state to state but there are some pretty common reasons why doctors get sued for medical malpractice. Here are some of those common reasons.

Reasons For Medical Malpractice Claims

Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis, Failure to Diagnose

Can you imagine being told you have one condition but it’s really something worse? Or consistently telling your doctor you have pain but he doctor says it’s nothing, but later find out the pain you were feeling is a life-threatening condition?

Those are things patients experience on a daily basis and it sometimes costs them their life. As a doctor, you want to be extremely thorough and pay close attention to all the symptoms your patients tell you they’re having. A simple “oh you’re fine” could be the very statement that has you sitting in a courtroom explaining why you didn’t take your patient more seriously.

Errors in Surgical Procedures

Most people think that with surgery, doctors need to have a steady hand… But surgeons need more skills than that. There have been malpractice lawsuits due to:

  • Leaving surgical tools inside of patients 
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Operating in the wrong area
  • Anesthesia errors

The thing about these errors is that they are completely preventable… It’s simply a matter of focus, concentration, communication with your surgical team, being thorough, and reading.

Medication Errors

Everything from prescribing the wrong medication to mistakenly prescribing too high of a dosage of medication, these are things that can have serious effects on a patient’s health causing potential overdoses and even death. 

As a prescribing doctor, you have to be vigilant and thorough when writing prescriptions. To reduce medication errors, you have to make sure you’re spelling the medication correctly, make sure you’re writing the correct mg for the medication, and writing the correct instructions for taking the medicine.

This will keep you and your patients safe.

Obstetric Errors

The birth of a child is supposed to a happy time in an expectant mother’s life. Unfortunately, for some mothers, it’s their worst nightmare becoming a reality. Obstetric errors cause harm not only to the mother but also to their baby. Things like failure to monitor the mother during pregnancy, negligence during labor and delivery, and birth injuries are some of the biggest reasons doctors face malpractice lawsuits.

These errors are mostly unintentional but despite a doctor’s best efforts, their mistakes impact the lives of soon-to-be mothers and their babies. Some mistakes cost the lives of the mothers and/or their babies.

Protect Yourself and Your Practice

As mentioned earlier, doctors may have a prestigious and rewarding title, but they’re human just like everyone else, meaning, they make mistakes. Unfortunately, their mistakes can have harsher consequences than other professions… but doctors are well aware of the risks involved with their profession.

That reason alone is why it so important you have business insurance to protect against losses and liabilities.

You may have the best intentions for all your patients but one simple mistake can do a world of damage for not only your patient but also to your career, your livelihood, and your reputation. As a medical professional, you want to do all you can to provide the best care for your patients but you also have to look out for yourself too.

Before you take on any patient, make sure you protect yourself and them by having a business insurance policy in place as well as a qualified lawyer that has a great deal of experience in medical malpractice lawsuits. Ultimately, the goal is to not need either of these safety nets but you want to make sure you have them in the event you need them.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.

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