The Most Common Medical Malpractice Areas (& How You Can Protect Yourself)

No one is more appreciative of Oregon’s highly qualified medical practitioners than the attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. In fact, most Oregonians can thank a doctor or other medical professional for providing essential medical services at one time or another. However, doctors and other medical providers can make mistakes, just like any other professional. Unfortunately, the results of medical malpractice can be severe, sometimes even fatal. In order to protect all of society and promote accountability, we believe it’s imperative to hold all negligent professionals responsible for their actions. 

Is Medical Malpractice Something I Really Need to Worry About?

For years, we have heard members of the medical community downplay the seriousness of medical malpractice, contending that malpractice insurance costs too much and that lawmakers should consider some type of tort reform. However, as time goes by, it seems that research on the frequency of medical malpractice paints a different picture. For example, in 2016 two doctors from Johns Hopkins published a sobering article in the British Medical Journal. Based upon their research team’s analysis of eight years’ worth of data, they concluded that if the United States classified medical error as a disease, it would constitute the third leading cause of death in America, behind only cancer and heart disease. The experts estimated that more than a whopping 250,000 deaths result each year from medical error.

What Are Some Common Areas of Malpractice, and How Can You Protect Yourself?

Here, we’ll discuss a few common medical malpractice issues, and some common-sense precautions. However, keep in mind that we are not doctors and can’t give medical advice. At the end of this article, to help get you started with your research, we’ll provide links to some materials designed to help patients protect themselves. It’s always important to thoroughly educate yourself concerning all of your medical treatment.

  • Diagnostic Issues

Many instances of malpractice occur as a result of both misdiagnosis (making the wrong diagnosis) and failure to diagnose (not making a diagnosis at all). While such errors can result from many causes, one simple source can be miscommunication between patient and doctor. Thus, help protect yourself by communicating your issues clearly, carefully, and thoroughly. Make sure your doctor understands your communications. Additionally, if you believe your doctor hasn’t adequately responded to your concerns, or even if you just want the peace of mind of confirming your doctor’s diagnosis, obtain a second opinion.

  • Surgical Errors

According to a 2013 article published by the American Medical Association in the American Medical News, surgical errors occur across the United States approximately 80 times every week. Perform research before choosing a surgeon. Perform a background check to determine if the doctor has had malpractice claims made against him or her in the past. Make sure the doctor is experienced in the procedure you must undergo. Communicate carefully to make sure everyone understands what is to be done during the surgery. Believe it or not, some people even advise that you mark the surgical area in advance because surgeons have operated in the wrong place on so many occasions.

  • Drug Errors

Many injuries occur from taking medicine. Make sure you provide your doctor with a complete list of all of your medications and allergies. Also confirm with the doctor the name of the medicine being prescribed, and check to see that the pharmacist gave you the correct medication, in the correct dosage size. If you’re in the hospital, know what you are supposed to be taking, and double-check what your nurse gives you.

What If Malpractice Has Already Occurred?

If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, call with your questions, or for a free consultation. We believe that all of society benefits when wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions. Remember, medical malpractice cases are complicated and take a great deal of investigation. Because there is a statute of limitations, it’s important to contact an attorney as quickly as possible.


Helpful Links

Johns Hopkins Summary of Research Findings on Death Due to Medical Error:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Archive – “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors: Patient Fact Sheet”:

HealthDay: “Protecting Yourself Against Medication Errors”:

Prevention: “Get Out of the Hospital Alive”:


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