Medical Malpractice Glossary
Read the definitions of terms that relate to medical malpractice, birth injury, and nursing home negligence law.Abandonment - failure on the part of medical professionals to attend to a patient who needs treatment. Actual damages - the cost of additional treatment, loss of wages, loss of future wages, and pain and suffering. Anesthesia injury - an injury sustained from incorrectly administered anesthetics. Baxter dialysis filter - a series of Baxter dialysis filters, used to clean the blood of those with kidney ailments, were recalled by Baxter International. There have been reports of deaths linked to the use of these filters, some of which were defectively manufactured. Birth injury - an injury sustained immediately before, during, or after birth. Brachial Plexus Palsy - also known as Erb's Palsy, this is a condition that affects the nerves that control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand. Brachial Plexus Palsy can be caused by birth injuries to the shoulder of the baby. Causation - in a medical malpractice case, this refers to the question of whether or not the actions of the medical professional caused harm to the patient. Cerebral palsy - a group of disorders that limit muscle function and coordination. Cerebral palsy is typically caused by birth injuries - often from lack of oxygen to the infant. Compensation - monetary award transferred from defendant to plaintiff to make up for a wrong, damage or injury caused by the defendant's actions or inaction. Dental malpractice - improper or negligent treatment of a person under a dental professional's care that results in injury or death. Elder abuse - any physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, or financial abuse perpetrated against an older adult. Caretakers most often commit elder abuse, whether they are family members or nursing home staffers. Many victims do not report violations because they are scared or ashamed. Erb's palsy - also known as Brachial Plexus Palsy, this is a condition that affects the nerves that control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand. Erb's palsy can be caused by birth injuries to the shoulder of the baby. Failure to advise of diagnosis - failure on the part of a doctor to inform a patient of his or her diagnosis. Failure to diagnose - failure of a doctor to catch telltale signs of sickness or injury during examination. If a doctor does not provide a reasonable standard of care when attempting to diagnose a patient, it can be grounds for a lawsuit, especially if it results in harm to the patient. HMO - stands for Health Maintenance Organization, which is a type of group insurance plan that entitles members to services of participating hospitals, clinics, and physicians. Improper diagnosis - failure of a doctor to arrive at the correct diagnosis after examination. If a doctor does not provide a reasonable standard of care when attempting to diagnose a patient, it can be grounds for a lawsuit, especially if it results in harm to the patient. Jaundice - a condition characterized by yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice is often a symptom of liver problems. Lack of informed consent - failure to notify or seek permission from the patient or relatives before performing procedures. Medical malpractice - improper or negligent treatment of a person under a medical professional's care that results in injury or death. Medical mistake - a general term for a medical error, whether it be an inaccuracy, miscalculation, omission, or some such mistake. Some of these errors are caused by negligence. Medication error - a mistake made by the prescribing doctor or pharmacist that results in the patient receiving the incorrect medication or dosage. Another type of medication error occurs when a drug is prescribed that could have harmful interaction with other drugs the patient is taking. Negligence - failure to exercise a reasonable degree of care, resulting in an unintended injury to another party. Nursing home abuse - any physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, or financial abuse perpetrated against residents of a residential care facility. Although nursing home abuse is a growing problem, many victims do not report violations because they are scared or ashamed. Pharmaceutical litigation - many patients die or are injured as a result of defective prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Pharmaceutical litigation holds pharmaceutical companies accountable for product liability when medications do not undergo appropriate tests or have inadequate warning labels. A hospital, physician, and pharmacy can also be responsible for injuries that are caused by prescription errors. Punitive damages - money awarded to punish the parties responsible in cases involving reckless or willful behavior. Shoulder dystocia - a birth injury that can occur when an infant's shoulder is caught behind its mother's pelvic bone during birth, causing the nerves of the shoulder to be stretched and possibly torn. Attending medical staff should be alert for signs of difficulty leading to this sort of injury. Statute of limitations - a law that limits the amount of time that may pass before a party sues for damages. Medical malpractice statutes of limitations vary from state to state. Surgical injury - an injury caused by making a surgical mistake - for example, removing the wrong kidney or leaving a surgical instrument in the patient. This can constitute grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Surgical procedure error - a mistake made during surgery. If the surgical procedure error harms a patient and could have been prevented, there may be grounds for a lawsuit. Tort - any action or inaction that wrongs, damages, or injures another, and thus forms the basis of a civil lawsuit. Wrongful death - a death that is caused by the misdeed or negligence of another. Wrongful death can form the basis for a civil action for damages on behalf of the beneficiaries of the deceased's estate.