Medical Malpractice: Common Errors and Common States

Medical malpractice comes in many shapes and forms, from prescribing unsafe drug and medical devices to misdiagnosing a condition. Medical liability laws vary from state to state. Some states enforce a strict damage cap, while others have high malpractice payouts. Here are the top five most common types of medical malpractice, and the five top states with the highest payouts.


Misdiagnosis is the most common type of medical malpractice, making up about 33% of all medical malpractice lawsuits in 2015. If it is reasonable to expect a doctor to make the correct diagnosis, but negligence prevented him or her from doing so, there are grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

New York was the Number 1 state for the largest medical malpractice payouts, with more than $700 million in payouts in 2015. Unlike most states, New York has no damage cap. Litigation is frequent and malpractice premiums for physicians are up to $100,000 per year.


Surgery error is the second most common medical malpractice claim, coming in at 24% last year. Surgery error includes operating on the wrong person, the wrong limb or organ, the wrong side of the body, leaving tools inside the patient, nicking internal organs, and more. Surgery malpractice cases can lead to serious permanent injury and mental pain and suffering.

With almost $350 million in total payouts ($36.15 per capita) last year, Pennsylvania is the second highest-paying medical malpractice state in America. Pennsylvania is one of the few states with no damage cap (though there is a cap on punitive damages) and thus opens its courts to a high number of medical malpractice litigations.


Incorrect medical treatment is the third most common type of medical malpractice. Treating a patient incorrectly causes injury by failing to treat a patient’s condition – making it worsen – or by causing adverse health reactions in the patient. If a different doctor would have recommended other treatment under the same circumstances, your doctor could potentially be guilty of malpractice.

New Jersey is the third biggest state for medical malpractice, with almost $265 million in payouts in 2015. Along with the cluster of other northeastern states, New Jersey doesn’t impose strict damage caps – leading to about $29.59 in costs per capita for medical malpractice lawsuits.


Women trust obstetricians (OB/GYNs) with their wellbeing from the early stages of pregnancy through to the birth of their children. When harm to the mother or child is a direct result of an OB/GYN’s negligence, it is obstetrical malpractice. This can include errors in ultrasound readings, poor pregnancy management, unnecessary or failure to provide a C-section, delay in recognizing fetal distress, medication errors that affect the baby, and errors during delivery resulting in birth injuries.

Keeping up with the East Coast trend, Florida has the fourth-highest medical malpractice payout rates, reaching $236 million last year. Medical malpractice claims, including obstetrical malpractice, are popular in Florida, since the damage cap is set as high as $750,000 in lawsuits against non-practitioner defendants.


Medication malpractice encompasses prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing one that reacts badly with other medications, giving the wrong dosages, and other related errors. If a doctor negligently prescribes the wrong dosage or type of medication when he or she reasonably should have done otherwise, the courts consider it medical malpractice.

The highest medical malpractice payout on the West Coast in 2015 was in California, with a little more than $224 million in total. There is a $250,000 damage cap in California for non-economic damages.

Learn More About Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania

If you believe you have a case for medical malpractice, contact the Hill & Associates law firm today. Speak with us to find out more information about Pennsylvania’s damage cap and our malpractice laws. We’ll discuss your medical malpractice case in detail in a free consultation.