5 Notable Examples of Medical Malpractice

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In order to prevent medical malpractice, it is important for patients and their families to understand examples of medical malpractice. When you know how to spot malpractice, you’re more likely to advocate for yourself or your family.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a breach of an accepted standard of care that results in harm to the patient. The accepted standard of care varies from state to state and falls under three categories:

  • Negligence: including surgical errors, delayed diagnosis, or missed diagnosis
  • Intentional Misconduct: including sexual abuse by a healthcare professional
  • Fraud: including billing for tests or procedures that were not performed

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Dana Carvey’s Botched Operation

In 1998, comedian Dana Carvey underwent double bypass surgery. His doctor mistakenly operated on the wrong artery. This damaged Carvey’s body permanently. After the surgery, when he should have been healing, Carvey’s condition continued to worsen.

He went to another doctor, and that’s when they discovered the problem–his surgeon had operated on the wrong artery. After suing the surgeon, he settled for $7.5 million for damages.


Wrong Side of the Head

In 2007, Neurosurgeons in Rhode Island operated on the wrong side of the head of an 83-year-old patient. This resulted in the death of the patient. The surgeon performing this operation had their medical license suspended for two months.

Since it was the third time that year this surgeon operated on the wrong side, they had to pay a fine of $50,000 to the state Department of Health.


Misled Amputation

Willie King went into surgery to have his diseased leg removed. Through a series of mistakes, the doctor removed the wrong one.

Not only had the staff sterilized the wrong leg, but it was also documented wrong on the doctor’s computer and the operating room blackboard. The case against the surgeon and the hospital was settled at $1.15 million.


Unnecessary Surgery

At 22, Jonathan Stelly went to his doctor because of a fainting spell. His doctor told him he needed a pacemaker or he would die within a decade. Trusting his doctor, Jonathan got the pacemaker.

Months after the procedure, Jonathan learned his cardiologist was under investigation. He decided to get a second opinion. All the doctors he subsequently saw told him a simple blood pressure medication prescription was all he needed.

Stelly sued his doctor for damages. After civil and criminal suits, the doctor was fined $175,000 and ended up in prison for ten years.



A woman in New York went to the doctor for a lump in her breast. Her doctor thought it was a clogged milk duct and refused to order further testing. A year later, she went in for her yearly mammogram and found that the lump had grown to the size of a golf ball.

Furious with the mishandling of her health that led to a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, she sued the doctor. A jury approved a $15 million award.


You Can Fight Against Malpractice

Malpractice happens more than we would like to think. If a doctor refuses to provide the proper standard of care, it’s crucial to hold them accountable.

If you’re considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, get in touch with Napoli Shkolnik. Our dedicated team of attorneys will guide you through the entire process. We’ll review your claim for free.