What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare professional is negligent while administering care to a patient, and this results in injury or even death. We put so much faith in those who are sworn to medically treat us that the thought of those people hurting us is often unimaginable. Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a reality both in South Africa and throughout the world. Below we list some of the more common types and instances of medical malpractice and give a brief explanation of each.

Errors With Regards to Medication

Errors with regards to medication are one of the more common instances of medical malpractice, and these errors can occur in a multitude of ways. For example, a doctor might make a mistake regarding an initial prescription or administer drugs inappropriately or irresponsibly. Within a hospital environment, a typical type of grievance results from the incorrect medication being given to the wrong patient. Arguably the most common medication errors involve improper dosage prescriptions, which can result in a wide array of problems.


Missed or delayed diagnoses are a very large cause of medical malpractice complaints. This is when a professional makes an error in judgement with regards to a medical condition and how best to treat it. Misdiagnosis could very well lead to the prescription of treatments and medicines that are not appropriate for the patient and their affliction, and this can potentially result in harm. A good benchmark with which to look at medical malpractice would be to ascertain whether a reasonably skilful, competent doctor would not have made the same mistake under the same circumstances

Anesthesia Errors

Mistakes and negligence with regards to anaesthesia can be highly devastating, as even a small error by the anaesthesiologist can result in serious injury, brain damage, or even death. The most common causes of medical malpractice by anaesthesiologists include failure to investigate a patient’s medical history for possible complications, or failure to make the patient aware of necessary procedures – such as informing the patient not to ingest anything for a certain period before surgery takes place. As mentioned above, these seemingly small errors can have catastrophic repercussions.

Errors During Surgery

Though it is relatively rare, surgeons can be negligent in the operating room. There may be negligence in the form of errors during the surgery itself, such as nicking an organ or blood vessel or leaving debris inside the body itself. There have even been cases of surgeons operation on the wrong body part. The devastation that this type of negligence can cause is obvious.


Paul du Plessis Attorneys

Paul du Plessis Attorneys provide specialized medico-legal services to clients who have suffered an injury at the hands of another. We combine personal care and empathy with experience and in-depth legal and medical knowledge to provide service that is geared to successful claims. Contact us today for all medical negligence cases.

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