What Are The Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims?

By Ben Gobel on January 31, 2023

Photo of a Gavel and Stethoscope

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. More than 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical errors, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Medical malpractice occurs when doctors and healthcare professionals neglect to provide adequate or appropriate treatment, or fail to take necessary action, resulting in harm or death.  There are many different types of medical malpractice claims like surgical errors, birth injuries and other medical errors. Our personal injury law firm will fight to prove that the at-fault party was negligent in providing care.

Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

When a medical professional makes a medical error, that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. These are the most common medical malpractice claims.

Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis

Failure to diagnose is one of the most common medical malpractice claims. Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to recognize the signs or symptoms of a medical condition the patient has. As a result, the patient could be prescribed the wrong medication or medical treatment for their condition. The incorrect diagnosis can prolong a person’s suffering until the actual cause of their condition is found, while also exposing them to dangerous side effects from drugs that cannot cure them.

Birth Injuries

A difficult delivery can result in the doctor using a vacuum or forceps, tools that have been known to cause head injuries. A birth injury impairs the structure or functions of the baby’s body. Birth trauma is due to a healthcare worker’s mistake.

Childbirth injuries include injuries are harm to both the mother or child like:

  • Failure to respond to fetal distress
  • Damaging the mother’s pelvic floor
  • Failure to notice the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck

Babies can also suffer from dislocated shoulder, spinal cord injuries, and cerebral palsy during the birth process. 

Medication Errors

One of the most common medical malpractice claims are prescription drug errors. Medication errors occur in clinics and hospitals and include administering or prescribing the wrong drug entirely or incorrect dosage. 

Prescription drugs are strong and, used incorrectly, can lead to permanent injury or even be fatal. Failure to get the patient’s medical history to identify possible dangerous drug interactions or complications could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medication errors also occur when the pharmacist filling the prescription cannot read the handwriting on the prescription or was given instructions that were poorly translated.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesiologists are entrusted with supervising a patient’s vital signs, oxygen and consciousness during surgery. They must take a sufficient patient history before surgery and administering anesthesia. Failing to properly monitor a patient during surgery and prolonged sedation can lead to brain damage and other permanent injuries, or even death. 

Delayed Diagnosis

When patients seek medical care, they trust that their physician will swiftly figure out what they are dealing with. It’s imperative to catch cancer, for example, before it has spread. A physician can fail to properly diagnose a condition if their office is understaffed or if the tests were mishandled. As the symptoms go undiagnosed, the condition worsens. With 33% of all malpractice claims from 2013 to 2017 being linked to delayed diagnoses, this is one of the most common medical errors that patients suffer from in the U.S. 

Surgical Errors

Surgeons can make errors in the operating room. Surgical errors are some of the most common medical malpractice claims and they include operating on the wrong patient, operating on the wrong part of the body or leaving gauze or other medical equipment in the body. 

Surgeons are also supposed to provide adequate pre- and post-surgery care. That means interviewing you to find out your family history and what medications you’re on to prevent any possible complications with medications you’re already taking or conditions you already have.

Nurses and anyone else who was involved in the surgery are also potential liable parties. It is their responsibility to help the surgical team and provide the right tools that have been properly sanitized.

Photo of mallet and stethoscope

Most Common Causes of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice and negligence are two terms with similar definitions. Negligence is when a healthcare provider fails to provide the standard level of care required by law. Medical malpractice is when a healthcare worker makes a mistake. 

Your medical malpractice attorney will investigate your claim to find out why they provided substandard care. Here are some causes for medical malpractice claims. 

Understaffed Hospitals

Overworked nurses can accidentally overdose or provide a patient with the wrong medication. Fatigued surgeons can make errors. Overworked doctors can rush through the process of assessing patients and may miss a serious medical condition. 

It’s imperative that hospital staff are able to take appropriate steps to control infection and have adequate equipment to care for their sickest patients without spreading disease to other patients. This is much harder to do in understaffed facilities.


Sometimes a part of the problem of being an understaffed hospital is that there is little oversight, so medical practitioners who made mistakes go unnoticed and continue to commit malpractice.

Poor Communication

Miscommunication between a doctor and a nurse, pharmacist or other colleague can have severe consequences. It is so important to disclose conditions and prescriptions that a patient has, as well as their weight, height and age. Moving a decimal point or mishearing something over the phone can lead to injuries.

What Do I Need to Prove a Medical Malpractice?

In order to recover damages, you will need to establish the elements of a medical malpractice case:

  • That a doctor-patient relationship existed
  • That the doctor failed to live up to the standard of care that most doctors would have provided in the same situation
  • The failure of the medical professional to treat the medical condition was the actual or proximate cause of the injury
  • The patient suffered damages as a result of the injury

You can recover damages for your medical bills, the cost of future medical care, lost wages and other economic damages, as well as damages for pain and suffering. 

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

You are more likely to recover compensation in a medical malpractice claim if you work with a legal professional. Our medical malpractice law firm has recovered over $250 million for personal injury clients in Pittsburgh, and we are eager to help you, too. 

The attorneys at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. will investigate your medical malpractice case and identify the liable parties. As one of the most trusted law firms in Pittsburgh, we can help you understand your legal options. We stand up to the insurance company for the at fault party.

We begin the process by offering you a free case evaluation where we discuss your legal options and answer questions you have about the medical malpractice claims process. Call us now at (412) 502-5804 to schedule yours today.