When a patient seeks care from a medical provider or facility, they trust it with their health and safety. As a patient, you expect that you will receive a high quality of care and that your provider will treat your safety as a top priority. However, if you experience a medical error during this process, you may suffer irreparable damage or a long road to recovery for an injury you were not expecting.
Many Medical Errors Go Unreported
Medical errors occur much more frequently than people realize. This is partly because many medical errors go unreported. In fact, medical errors kill between 200,000 and 400,000 patients each year. This staggering number brings to light a problem experienced by many patients whose lives forever change due to the actions or inaction of the medical providers and facilities entrusted with their care. In some cases, patients themselves don’t know that a medical error occurred until they begin to experience the physical effects of those errors.
A High Percentage of Medical Errors Are Preventable
What makes the prevalence of medical errors in the healthcare setting most disconcerting is that many of these errors are preventable. A study conducted by researchers on the possible causes of medical errors found that medical professionals could have prevented more than 70 percent of the incidents.
The Most Common Types of Medical Errors That Occur
Various circumstances throughout the timeline of your medical care can give rise to a medical error resulting in damage to you. Medical errors can cause serious or life-threatening injuries that can result in a significant impact on your daily life. You are likely facing additional medical expenses, prolonged treatments, or rehabilitation, as well as impacts on your ability to maintain your quality of life and earn an income.
Examples of some of the most common medical errors that occur in a healthcare setting include:
- Improper diagnosis. Whether it is a lack of a diagnosis, a misdiagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis, this particular type of medical error can affect not only your treatment options but also the likelihood of success of the treatment course taken. When a doctor or other provider makes an error during this stage of care, you could suffer prolonged discomfort and pain as well as additional harm due to the delay or improper diagnosis.
- Errors in administration or prescription of drugs/medications. Prescriptions and medications for patients is a common area where medical errors occur. The errors can occur at any point in the process, whether it is by a doctor prescribing the wrong medication, a pharmacy mislabeling or misreading a prescription, or a nurse administering the wrong dosage or drug needed for your care. If someone gave you the wrong dosage or the wrong medication for your needs, you will not only continue to suffer from your current condition but may also face serious consequences or adverse effects from the medication prescribed or administered by your healthcare provider.
- Defective medical devices or improper placement of those devices. The use of medical devices can be life-saving for many patients. However, misused or inherently defective devices will make patients suffer severe impacts on their life and health. It is the responsibility of your healthcare provider, as well as the manufacturer of the medical devices, to not only ensure you understand the risks associated with the use of the device but that you are in fact a viable candidate for its use, and that you receive a device that is not faulty or defective.
- Infection in healthcare facilities. Infections are commonplace in a medical setting. However, secondary infections—that occur as a result of preventable medical errors—endanger your health. When these infections occur due to mishandling of equipment, improper sanitation procedures, or protocols, they are generally the fault of the individuals and organizations responsible for protecting your health and safety.
- Errors in tracking equipment used for surgeries and procedures. Each medical facility and medical team must follow certain procedures and protocols to protect a patient’s safety and health when undergoing surgery or other invasive medical procedures. When these protocols are insufficient or not followed as instructed, the result can have devastating consequences for patients.
These errors in tracking and accounting for the equipment used during a procedure can be difficult to identify at first. It may take time to discover the error that could result in additional damage or infection to your body in addition to the need for additional surgeries to retrieve the lost equipment.
Why Do Medical Errors Occur?
There are many possible explanations as to why a medical error has occurred. With the help of a reputable and knowledgeable attorney specializing in medical malpractice, you could attempt to identify where the medical error leading to your injury occurs and who is potentially responsible for the events leading to the error and your damages.
Some of the most common causes responsible for medical errors include:
- Miscommunication or overall lack of communication
- Fatigue leading to mistakes or errors in judgment
- Insufficient safety procedures or protocols in place
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help You?
Dealing with the aftermath of a medical error can be overwhelming and can interfere with your recovery efforts. It can be difficult to get the answers you are looking for from the parties responsible for your injuries. A knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you get the answers you need and the compensation you deserve for the damages and injuries you have suffered.
Focus your efforts and energy on the recovery and rehabilitation from the damage you have suffered; consult with an attorney to discuss how they can help you protect your legal rights and interests.