Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims in Phoenix

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims


Medical malpractice cases can be very complicated and expensive and prosecution of a claim requires a team of experienced professionals. The Law Offices of William D. Black are committed to helping our clients rebuild their lives if they have been victimized by malpractice. We have the knowledge, experience, and financial resources needed to successfully pursue medical negligence cases. If a medical provider has committed malpractice and you or a loved one have been seriously injured as a result thereof, we can build a strong and persuasive case on your behalf and get you the award or settlement to which you are entitled.

Claims Arising From Emergency Room Errors

When a person is injured or facing a critical medical condition which takes them to the emergency room, the last thing they would expect is that their condition will be worsened by the visit. Unfortunately, however, emergency rooms are the site of thousands of errors every year, many of which can cause unnecessary patient harm and at times even death. Because of overcrowding and short staffing, poorly equipped emergency rooms and poorly trained staff consisting of physicians and nurses, many emergency room patients become victims of malpractice or wrongful death while being cared for in the emergency department.

Last year more than 240,000 people died from medical malpractice- related incidents across the country and almost half of those were a result of errors made in a number of emergency rooms. Emergency room errors are common and in many instances overlooked. Because of the increasing number of patients and the need to prioritize or “triage” patients by order of medical urgency, many things can go wrong in any emergency room setting. However, as long as the patient eventually receives the proper care, which usually requires admission to the hospital for further testing and treatment, the errors which take place in the emergency room seem to have little consequence. However, when the patient is improperly discharged from there and advised that there is nothing wrong, or when a diagnosis of a significant adverse condition is missed or overlooked, the initial medical errors in the emergency room can have significant consequences and repercussions.

Some of the life-threatening conditions seen in the ER most often include abdominal, chest or shoulder pain; infections and fevers; orthopedic injuries, obstetric and gynecologic emergencies and headaches.

Claims Relating to Hospital Negligence:

  • Failure of staff to observe and diagnose a serious health condition
  • Failure to properly carry out and administer a physician’s orders
  • Failure to properly read and interpret laboratory results
  • Failure to accurately report significant changes in a patient’s condition
  • Failure to properly administer prescribed treatment
  • Failure to react to and challenge questionable order from a physician
  • Failure to properly monitor patient’s conditions
  • Failure to use medical equipment in proper manner
  • Failure to provide timely treatment to a patient in need
  • Failure to become knowledgeable in and use medical equipment in right manner
  • Failure to observe and report post-surgery complications or problems
  • Negligent credentialing, retention and supervision

Claims Which Arise From Post-Surgery Infections or Other Infections Caused by Negligent Care

If an infection is not diagnosed and treated right away, it can lead to the bacteria taking over the body and causing a reaction in and damages to the vascular system. This can lead to very low blood pressure and lack of blood and oxygen to the major organs such as the brain heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and extremities.

Claims Relating to Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis of Serious Medical conditions

Diagnosing and treating an injury or ailment can be difficult, even when the correct treatment plan is administered. When medical professionals administer an improper treatment, the patient’s recovery may be further complicated and their health may be put at serious risk. At the very least, an incorrect treatment will delay the patient from getting the correct treatment. In the worst case scenarios, the new treatment plan could cause additional health complications and lead to serious injuries or even death. Misdiagnosis can also lead to the wrong drugs being prescribed.

Misdiagnosis of Cancer

The failure to properly diagnose cancer can result in considerable pain and suffering and the need for extensive treatments that may not be necessary otherwise. It is important to determine not only that cancer is present but specifically what kind of cancer is involved. Successful recovery in this type of medical malpractice case requires evidence that an earlier diagnosis would have led to a significantly different and improved outcome from what actually occurred. Fortunately, medical providers and research specialists continue to make advancements in cancer diagnosis and treatment. There are now many effective options for treating almost all types of cancer. The fact that these treatments are available, however, does not always mean they are implemented or if so, implemented correctly.

When an attorney evaluates a possible case of failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, he or she should complete a full investigation of the medical records and the treatment timeline to determine exactly when a prudent physician exercising reasonable care should have diagnosed a disease or referred the patient to a specialist. This will help to determine whether there is a provable case.

  • Common Misdiagnosis:
    • Misdiagnosis of stroke
    • Misdiagnosis of pulmonary embolism
    • Misdiagnosis of heart attack
    • Misdiagnosis of closed head injury
    • Misdiagnosis of diabetes
    • Misdiagnosis of tuberculosis
    • Misdiagnosis of spinal or bacterial meningitis
    • Misdiagnosis of appendicitis
    • Misdiagnosis of rectal or colorectal cancer
    • Misdiagnosis of mesothelioma
    • Misdiagnosis of diabetes
    • Misdiagnosis of metabolic syndrome

Claims Relating to Battery

Battery occurs when a physician performs or initiates a particular procedure or therapy to which the patient has not consented. Lack of consent and lack of informed consent are different issues. The critical issue in a battery claim is whether a patient gave consent. Consent defeats a batter claim, even if undisclosed complications occur.

Lack of informed consent occurs when a physician fails to inform his or her patient about all of the risks and ramifications of a procedure before the procedure is done. Many states require written consent, what about Arizona. Whether a physician in Arizona has a duty to disclose a particular risk depends on the circumstances. It is a question of medical judgment and must be established by expert medical testimony. A good medical malpractice attorney should be able to review and evaluate the validity and/or enforceability of the informed consent document which may have been signed by the patient.

Claims Relating to Improper Selection and Administration of Anesthesia

Errors in the administration of anesthesia often times cause a high risk of injury to the patient during a surgical procedure. Anesthesia errors can lead to brain injuries, organ failures or other serious health problems. In some instances they lead to death by asphyxia or heart failure. Anesthesiologists must be fully advised and knowledgeable about all aspects of anesthesia to properly administer it. They must also be completely aware of the patient’s health condition and other medications being prescribed. Many say the anesthesiologist is the most important doctor in the operating room, since his or her orders can supersede those of the surgeon. It is a recommended procedure for a potential surgical candidate to interview and check the references not only of the surgeon, but also of the anesthesiologist to be used. The anesthesiologist’s responsibilities pertain not only to the operating room, but also to the recovery room, since it is not uncommon for patients to develop certain problems post-surgery.

Medical Malpractice Relating to Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals are subject to malpractice liability for their errors and omissions the same as any other health care provider. The Arizona Medical Malpractice Act requires proof that the health care provider failed to exercise that degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonable, prudent health care provider in the discipline or class to which he or she belongs within the state acting in the same or similar circumstances.  In addition, the provider’s failure to follow the accepted standard of care must be the proximate cause of the injuries.  There are seven main groups of mental health professionals recognized under Arizona law:  psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers counselors, marriage and family therapists and substance abuse counselors.

Sexual Relations Between a Mental Health Professional and a Patient

Sexual relations between a mental health professional and a client is one of the leading causes of tort litigation against mental heal professionals. Such sexual relations are strictly forbidden and may result in criminal liability as well as disciplinary action against the professional’s license. It seems unthinkable that a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professionals would consider taking advantage of a patient who comes to them because they are weak or vulnerable, but unfortunately, it happens more than you think. The duty to refrain from sexual relations with a client in some instances may even extend to a period after treatment with the mental health professional concluded. There are several Arizona statutes relating to this subject. Claims relating to sexual assault by a physician in general are generally not covered by medical malpractice insurance.

Medical Malpractice Relating to Surgical Errors

Some common injuries resulting from surgical errors relate to foreign fluids such as urine, bile, or feces that enter the abdominal cavity, through a cut intentionally made during surgery. This can lead to serious infections and sepsis, or septic shock, all of which in some instances can cause a patient’s death. These kinds of mistakes should never happen, but they do. Hospitals do not always have systems in place to prevent these types of surgical accidents or they may not properly implement what systems they do have.

Claims Relating to Surgical Error:

  • Leaving instruments such as clamps, scalpels, towels, retractors, scissors and sponges or other surgical equipment in the body following surgery
  • Nicking, cutting or cauterizing vessels or organs that are not being operated upon
  • Injuries relating to laparoscopic surgery
  • Performing surgery while impaired
  • Compressing nerves and/or blood vessels during surgery causing compartment syndrome and nerve or muscle damage
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Orthopedic surgery errors such as failure to properly take x-rays or read x-rays properly, failure to refer to subspecialists such as hand surgeons or foot surgeons, improper casting of bones, etc. 

Medical Malpractice Relating to Plastic Surgeons

Plastic surgery is usually an elective procedure and is used by many to fight off the aging process. It can also be used for reconstructive purposes after a person has been in an accident which has resulted in skin damage involving lacerations, abrasions and severe burns. This has led to an increase in the number of physicians undertaking this specialty. Not all of these surgeons, however, seek or are given an adequate amount of training. Unfortunately, this means that many of these physicians in practice do not have the experience and expertise necessary to successfully perform these delicate procedures. Examples of common surgeries are breast augmentation, breast reduction, tummy tucks, eye lifts, face lifts, liposuction and nose jobs.

Medical Malpractice Relating to Nursing 

Nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse fails to adequately perform his or her medical duties and that failure harms the patient. Some of the most common examples of nursing malpractice are failure to follow physician’s orders in caring for patients or administering medications, failure to properly monitor and assess a patient’s condition and injuring a patient with medical equipment. Nurses are generally not popular targets in malpractice cases because if they are not covered by hospital insurance, their collectability is sometimes limited. Generally there is some greater sympathy for a nurse as well, since they are ordinarily dedicated and hardworking. There are many hospital insurance policies which do cover them, however, as agents and/or employees of the hospital so there are some cases where they are important defendants.

Nursing Home Negligence and Elder Abuse

Arizona enjoys a strong and successful reputation as a retirement state, and thus there are many nursing homes housing many of our senior citizens. As a result the Arizona state legislature has added certain statutes to the law relating to nursing homes which when combined with the medical malpractice law provide significant protections for the elderly or dependent adults. The Arizona statutes say that families of patients who die as a result of negligent care in a nursing home can sue for damages for the pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before death. In all other types of wrongful death cases, the family cannot collect any damages for such pre-death pain and suffering. However, recovery for pain and suffering in a nursing home or elder abuse case is permitted. In determining whether problems exist, an attorney must carefully study the facility’s history of violations of both federal and state law to determine if there is a pattern of neglect. Staffing and training deficiencies can often be proven to be the underlying cause of nursing home injuries.

Nursing home abuse can also constitute elder abuse. It can also take a variety of other forms: Illegally taking, misusing or concealing funds, property or assets. Signs of elder abuse can frequently be subtle. Seniors who are being abused oftentimes fail to report it or are not physically able to do so. Unexplained injuries, bedsores, a broken hip or frequent falls can become reasons to suspect elder abuse or nursing home negligence. If these facts are present, it would be advisable to contact an attorney to discuss and explore pursuing a potential claim on the victim’s behalf. 

Contact Us For More Information

The fact that a medical procedure has a bad outcome does not necessarily indicate that medical malpractice caused the result. But when a personal injury or wrongful death occurs because of ignorance, negligence, or improper use of method and practice, the victim or the victim’s family deserves answers.  Our attorneys at The Law Offices of William D. Black will work diligently to obtain those answers, reasonable compensation, and ultimately justice.

If you believe you or a loved one are the victim of malpractice and have suffered significant injuries and damages relating thereto, please contact the Law Offices of William D. Black. If the facts justify it, we will review your medical records to determine if there is a provable case and if it is economically feasible to proceed. We have qualified medical personnel on staff. For a consultation with a Phoenix, Arizona medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of William D. Black, call 602-265-2600, 844-224-0054 or contact us online.

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