The Five Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Types

Medical malpractice is more than a poor result or an unintentional mistake. Instead, medical negligence is a lack of care.

Doctors have one of the highest duties of care in New York law. In the words of one legal scholar, their fiduciary duty requires them “to always put the well-being of their patients first and to not allow their judgment to be compromised by [any] other influences.”

This higher duty of care makes it easier for a New York personal injury attorney to establish negligence, or a lack of care, in the doctor-patient context.

What might pass as an unintentional error in some contexts could be malpractice in this context. If a driver drops something, bends over to pick it up, and crashes into another vehicle, many New York jurors would say the driver was not negligent.

But if a doctor drops a surgical instrument and picks it up, the doctor is clearly negligent


Failure to properly diagnose an illness is the most common kind of medical malpractice. Usually lack of information leads to negligence in this area, for example if a full array of diagnostic tests is not ordered for a complete picture.

Injury-related misdiagnosis can be a problem. Head injuries are a good illustration. Most head injury victims are treated in emergency rooms and immediately released.

Therefore, they do not get the care they need until their injuries are more advanced and more difficult to treat.

Cancer is another example. To many physicians, cancer is a lifestyle or a genetic condition. They usually do not consider this illness unless the patient has some obvious lifestyle or family history red flags.

Birth Injuries

Lack of information could be an issue in this area as well, especially if the mother is a walk-in who had little or no prenatal care.

Like many of us, doctors often make poor choices when they are under extreme pressure, especially in the delivery room. These choices include:

  • Forceps: These surgical tools are used by doctors to grab babies and try to pull them out of their mothers. This extreme force on a delicate newborn often causes a permanent injury.
  • Episiotomy: In a bygone era, doctors routinely made incisions on a mother’s perineum (area between the genitals and anus) to widen her birth canal. Now, doctors know that these incisions are usually ineffective and often dangerous. Nevertheless, many doctors perform these procedures anyway. In doing so, they put both mothers and babies at risk.
  • Vacuum Extractor: If these methods don’t work, many doctors attach a cap to the baby’s head and use a vacuum to suck the child out of the mother. This brutal procedure can cause a permanent head injury.

In the delivery room, if the baby is too large to drift through the mother’s birth canal, the baby can develop cerebral palsy in less than five minutes.

Anesthesia Errors

Assisting a mother during birth is a very delicate process, and so is pre-procedure anesthesia. Several different methods are available, not only in pregnancy cases, but also in other surgical matters.

Frequently, the anesthesiologist only comes on the scene shortly before the procedure begins. The aforementioned duty of care requires these doctors to thoroughly review patient records and look for red flags like allergies to certain medications. Unfortunately, these reviews don’t always happen.

The amount of medication could be an issue as well. Too much medicine, and the patient might not wake up. Not enough medicine and the patient could wake up too early.

Surgical Mistakes

Much like anesthesia errors, surgical mistakes could happen before or during a medical procedure.

Instrument sterilization is one example. The medical staff usually heats instruments to sterilize them. Scalpels and other instruments must be sufficiently sterilized to kill bacteria. However, if they are overheated, the patient could sustain serious burns.

Other surgical mistakes involve doctors performing the wrong operation or leaving small items inside a patient.

Post-Surgical Errors

The risk of bacterial infection continues once patients are in the recovery area. As patients recover from serious surgery, they are especially vulnerable to bacterial infections. These infections can sweep through a hospital like wildfire.

Sometimes, a defective product contributes to such injuries.

The Bair Hugger Warming Blanket is a good example. This gadget sucks air from near the floor, heats it, and uses it to warm blankets.

That sounds nice. But the problem is that air near the floor is usually dirty, and the heat causes bacteria to multiply. Then, the vacuum hose delivers this bacteria-riddled air directly to the palace where the patient is most vulnerable.

Different legal standards apply in such situations. Usually, manufacturers are strictly liable for the injuries their defective products cause. Negligence is irrelevant, at least for liability purposes.

Medical mistakes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. There are no upfront legal fees and we only recover a fee when we win your case.