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3 examples of serious medical malpractice cases

Medical malpractice is never good, but it can sometimes be minor. The doctor may prescribe the wrong medication, you notice the adverse impact, and you go in and have the mistake fixed. That's not great, but there's no long-term issue.

However, medical mistakes can also be quite devastating. They can lead to serious injures, disability, and even death. Below are three examples of serious medical malpractice cases.

Wrong-side brain surgery

In one case, a doctor decided he knew which side of a man's brain he was supposed to operate on. Despite having a checklist designed to eliminate errors by forcing him to write down everything, he trusted his own memory and didn't make a note of it. A nurse even called him out on it, and he told her he didn't have to worry because he knew where to do the surgery. She asked him again, and he insisted that he knew.

He didn't. He cut into the wrong side of the man's skull, and only then did he realize it was the wrong side and started over on the proper side.

The man did end up making it through the procedure, though it's clear that this could have had a drastic impact on his life if the doctor hadn't noticed the mistake partway through. Even so, the man passed away from unrelated causes a few weeks later.

Amputating the wrong leg

In another case, a man came in for surgery to have his leg amputated. The hospital staff prepared him for the procedure, but the wrong leg was prepped. The doctor did not double-check before he started cutting it off. A nurse checked during the operation, though, and told the doctor about the problem. He said he had a terrible feeling, but he had cut so far that he couldn't turn back, so the wrong leg was amputated.

Unneeded surgery

Some medical malpractice cases happen when patients don't need surgery at all. One woman's sample was mixed up in the lab. Doctors didn't know, and they told her she had jaw cancer. She was told it would kill her in weeks if she didn't have it removed. Part of her fibula would also be removed and used to replace the portion of her jaw. This meant her jaw would be functional, but she would be disfigured.

She just wanted to survive for her young children, though, so she had the procedure done. Only afterwards did the doctors notice the mistake and tell her she'd never had jaw cancer at all. She had been fine and the surgery was done for no reason.

Seeking compensation

Obviously, these are drastic examples, but they help show just how serious medical mistakes can be. People are left disfigured and disabled for life. In cases like these, the injured patients may be able to seek compensation. Points considered may include medical costs, loss of enjoyment of life and lost future wages.

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