3 Common Medical Errors that Could Threaten Your Life
Everyone should avoid fearmongering attempts and give credit when credit is due to all the doctors, nurses, and medical staff that saves our lives and makes us better every day. However, medical errors – due to negligence, exhaustion, lack of attention, haste –, etc. are present even in the most professional of hospital/clinic settings. Today, we will discuss some of the most common medical errors occurring in healthcare environments, not because we should fear the people who treat us, but because we need to understand how such errors occur and whether we play a part in them as well.
Medical Errors, Medical Malpractice, and Negligence – Why Is It Important to Discuss Them?
In many states – like Florida, for instance, medical negligence is the same thing as medical malpractice. However, in many parts of the country, these terms mean different things, especially from a legal point of view. Whoever saw courtroom dramas and movies knows that suing doctors for negligence is not an uncanny valley. On the contrary, injury attorneys and medical malpractice lawyers deal with loads of such cases yearly.
According to statistics, lawsuits regarding medical malpractice due to negligence occur in around 1,500 cases in Georgia residents alone. Other research found that about 250,000 people in the United States die every year from medical errors, although other reports suggest that the numbers could be twice as high. For this reason, people should be aware of the most common medical mistakes occurring in healthcare environments. At the same time, advocates fight hard to change legislation or push new ones to provide patients with even more safety than they are getting now.
Common Medical Errors and Mistakes All Patients Should Know
T.V. shows and movies emphasize surgical errors when they want to depict the drama surrounding medical malpractice. However, you should be aware of (and, in some cases, responsible for) other more common medical mistakes that can threaten your life.
1. Medication Mistakes
The most common medical errors patients face are medication mistakes. They can occur both in a hospital environment and at home, while the patient follows a specific treatment for a health condition.
· In the hospital environment, medication mistakes relate to patients missing their regular medication while in the hospital. Moreover, it happens to doctors or nurses to prescribe or deliver the wrong medicine/doses.
· At home, the patient could take medicine/dosages wrongly prescribed by their doctors or incorrectly dispensed at the pharmacy. It can also happen that a doctor omits to describe in full the interactions among several types of drugs or give poor instructions. On the other hand, the patient, considering that nothing terrible can happen, takes a mix of medicine that lead to adverse interactions and effects.
Just a reminder, if your doctor/pharmacist gave you the correct treatment, the right dosages, and the proper warnings and guidelines, they are not liable for your injuries in case you disregarded their recommendations. If you took the medication despite adverse effects, interaction warnings, or manufacturer’s instructions, a lawyer might not be able to build a case for you.
While you do play a part in being responsible for the medication you take and how you take it – especially if you’re a fan of dietary supplements the C.D.C. does not regulate – when it comes to diagnosing, you are in your doctor’s hands. For this reason, misdiagnosis errors are the most prevalent medical mistakes plaguing the healthcare environment and the courts of law.
Since a wrong diagnosis can result in proper treatment, delay of treatment, and sometimes death, asking for a second or third opinion is crucial. Let’s all remember that Dr. House was just a fictional character. In hospital environments, the wrong treatment for the incorrect diagnosis could lead to debilitating life conditions or fatalities.
3. Hospital Infections
Medical and legal practice witnesses dozens of horror stories of “never events,” when surgeons forget the scissors in the patient’s abdomen, or the nurse puts an IV catheter the wrong way, so air bubbles start traveling and causing strokes. However, such are rare cases.
What is concerning are the hospital contagions a patient can contract while there. If we listen to the C.D.C. estimates, it seems that hospital-acquired infections affect about 2 million people every year, causing nearly 100,000 deaths. Such infections correlate with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pneumonia, surgical site infections, catheter-related urinary infections, IV-related bloodstream infections, and more. People with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable, but none of us is safe.
What to Do in the Case of a Medical Error?
In case you feel you were the victim of medical negligence, errors, and malpractice, report the incident on all ladders of hierarchy, starting with doctors and hospitals and ending with the C.D.C. and even the F.D.A. in case of severe problems caused by medication. Keep your health in better shape as possible by seeking second opinions and treatments and always get a lawyer to discuss your case, establish liability, and represent you for a settlement or a trial.