From monitoring changes in health and diagnosing underlying conditions to performing complex surgical procedures, people entrust their lives to doctors and other health care workers with the expectation that they are in good hands. Unfortunately, mistakes and oversights happen more often than many people realize. According to a report from Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical mistakes rank third in the most cost common causes of death in the United States. 

Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or other health care professional fails to provide a reasonable standard of care, resulting in injury or death. While often associated with obvious surgical errors, there are many ways that poor medical care may lead to serious, lasting harm to a patient.

1. Misdiagnosis

The most common reason for malpractice claims is a failure to accurately diagnose a condition or a failure to make a diagnosis in a reasonable amount of time. Johns Hopkins Medicine notes that about 12 million Americans receive a delayed or inaccurate diagnosis annually, and diagnostic errors may cause as many as 40,000 to 80,000 preventable deaths each year.

2. Childbirth injuries

Negligence before, during or after birth may endanger both child and mother. Examples of malpractice may include overlooking medical conditions in the mother that could complicate childbirth or infect the fetus, such as preeclampsia, anemia, gestational diabetes, lupus or Rh incompatibility. Trauma to the child during the birth itself may also lead to nerve or brain damage, potentially causing cerebral palsy, delayed development or future learning disabilities.

3. Medication errors

Medication errors are all too common. In addition to prescribing the wrong drug for treatment, a physician may make a mistake in dosage amount or proper administration. Doctors may also overlook potential interactions between different medications or prescribe a drug without informing a patient about potential risks or side effects. Pharmacists may also be liable for malpractice if they provide the wrong medication, dosage or directions.