Medical negligence


Professionals in the medical area have a duty to take care of their patients , as this is their main function and when this is breached it may be possible that a series of claims may arise that can end in compensation for medical negligence . The term medical malpractice, which is also known as clinical negligence or malpractice, is generally defined as the breach of a duty of care by a healthcare professional that has caused some type of damage or loss.

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when the professional in health , the hospital or any provider of health treatment performed improper or so negligent putting in danger the health of the patient or causing him serious injury .

  • Definition
  • Types of medical malpractice
  • Causes
  • Consequences
  • How to deal with medical malpractice
  • Medical malpractice in Spain
  • In Argentina
  • In Chile
  • Example cases


Medical malpractice is deficient care that has been provided by a medical professional to a patient, which has directly caused an injury or worsened an existing condition in the patient. There are several ways that medical malpractice can occur, such as misdiagnosis , incorrect treatment, or surgical errors .


Types of medical malpractice

There are many types of medical malpractice, among the most we can mention the following:

  • Inappropriateness : this type of medical negligence occurs when the person in charge of health, in this case the doctor, has a limited amount of knowledge or skills to correctly interpret the symptoms that a patient has or when they have little training to perform any diagnostic or therapeutic intervention .
  • Recklessness : occurs when there is excessive confidence of the doctor in the elaboration of the patient’s clinical picture or in the perception that the doctor has regarding possible relevant complications , and does not take preventive measures .
  • Bad prescription of medicines : when the doctor prescribes a patient a medicine that is not indicated for his illness or that was contraindicated due to his clinical situation, which could have fatal consequences .
  • Omission of information to the patient : when the truth is not informed to the patient regarding a procedure , risks and alternatives of an intervention.
  • Delay in diagnosing : vital time can be lost to carry out the appropriate treatment and this can affect the life of the patient.
  • Errors in surgical interventions : they can be caused by circumstances beyond the control of the healthcare professional or by pure human error.
  • Failure to provide the means for the diagnosis and treatment of the patient at the appropriate time.


Among the most common causes we can mention:

  • Surgical interventions that cause harmful damage to the patient.
  • Inadequate prescription of medications.
  • bad result during cosmetic surgery.
  • Failure to make a timely diagnosis despite having the mechanisms for it.
  • Failing to educate and inform the patient before performing a procedure.
  • Errors of the diagnosis that harm the patient.
  • Failure to provide emergency care at the right time.
  • Transmit infectious contagious diseases to the patient through bad procedures.


After medical negligence, the trust of the medical professional with the patient is broken and the patient is estranged from the health system, which ends up causing greater harm to the patient. The physical sequelae is probably the most obvious factor and perhaps the most important. The psychological consequences and the moral damages are of importance, since they produce suffering that affects the patient for his whole life.

Moral damage, psychological damage and family consequences are possible consequences that can affect the patient, and the feeling that arises in those affected of feeling helpless, produces a tremendous feeling of abandonment , despair and depression , which could even be very dangerous for the affected person.

How to deal with medical malpractice

If we suspect that we have been victims of medical negligence, it is very important to remember that one of the most important aspects is the medical documents , as this will be our support in subsequent claims . For this reason, all this type of document must be up to date, with copies . It is also highly recommended to carry out a photographic follow-up of the evolution of the injury that we suspect is caused by negligence, and to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Medical malpractice in Spain

Gather information and have witnesses about the negligence and then seek a specialized attorney . In Spain , a criminal , civil and contentious-administrative claim can be made in this regard , either against the responsible doctor or against the health center that has committed the negligence. In the event that negligence has caused a serious injury or death, criminal proceedings will be necessary as it is faster and cheaper. When negligence is committed in a public hospital , the contentious-administrative route will be the only feasible route.

In Argentina

In Argentina there are many negligence cases and the first thing to keep is the patient’s medical history . The patient’s medical record should be requested and in the event that the hospital refuses to release it, it may be done through a lawyer . A medical examiner should be sought to establish the degree of disability of the patient. Summons are usually made to those responsible for the act to find a solution.

In Chile

The necessary background information must be gathered to carry out a legal and juridical feasibility study of the case. Have on hand medical documentation for the subsequent claim study, so you should request a copy of all medical documents where you were treated. Take photos of the clinical evolution of the patient, and save them in chronological order . If it is a public establishment, file the claim with the State Defense Council , if it is a private clinic, the Superintendency of Health must be resorted to to begin the mediation process.

Example cases

  • A patient who had heart surgery when he didn’t really need it. The patient was mistaken for another and the doctors noticed the error in the operating room and realized that he was not the right patient.
  • A patient with diabetes in surgery for a leg amputation as a result of his disease, however, when leaving the operating room the doctors notice that they removed the wrong leg. The patient had to go back into the operating room to have the other leg removed.
  • A case where the surgeon placed a screwdriver on the patient’s back , and not a titanium bar. The patient had to undergo three surgeries to repair the damage. In another case a doctor left a sponge on the patient’s back , and they realized the mistake until an X-ray had to be taken .

Leave a Comment