Physicians owe their patients a duty of care to provide medical treatment that is high in quality and free of errors. If a patient suffers from an injury while under the care of his or her doctor, a legal action may help to recover damages and the cost of treatment for recovery.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by WebMD’s Medscape, more than 50% of the licensed physicians surveyed stated that a patient filed a lawsuit alleging malpractice. With more than 4,000 respondents, the survey noted that surgeons faced the highest number of malpractice lawsuits, as reported by Becker’s ASC Review website. Urologists ranked second in the highest number of malpractice suits with anesthesiologists having the lowest amount of legal actions filed against them.

Common malpractice mistakes

Common surgical mistakes include operating on the wrong organ or body part, leaving instruments inside of a patient and post-operative infections or complications. The surgeon may have performed a successful operation, but injuries may have resulted from a mistake on the part of an anesthesiologist, a nurse or other medical staff members.

When negligence contributes to an error leading up to a patient’s injuries, several parties may face allegations of malpractice. Depending on the circumstances, however, a single physician and the hospital or facility where the patient received treatment may incur the liability for damage.

The primary cause of legal actions

Physicians generally find themselves as a plaintiff in a lawsuit over a misdiagnosis of an illness or a condition that if treated incorrectly results in catastrophic health outcomes or debilitating injuries. According to a study noted in Managed Care, 10% of patient deaths are attributable to diagnostic errors and misdiagnosis represents the single greatest cause of medical malpractice claims.