Patients trust healthcare professionals to make sound decisions regarding their care. People assume treatment plans are based on a medical team’s experience. Additionally, one expects any caregiver to order necessary tests, evaluate results, prescribe necessary medication, and spend an appropriate amount of time and thought before considering medical options. In other words, medical practitioners should know a patient’s history when possible, and follow accepted medical practices.
If you or a loved one has been hurt or killed by a medical facility’s failure to provide adequate care, or you suspect there was a medical error that hurt you or someone you love, contact a medical malpractice attorney.
Medical Error Definition
A medical error occurs when there is a failure to complete a care plan or when the wrong plan is used to treat a patient. These errors are referred to as ones of omission or commission. One example would be a patient with a history of sky high blood pressure.
If a cardiologist fails to prescribe medication to lower that person’s blood pressure and they subsequently have a stroke, the cardiologist made a medical error of omission. On the other hand, if the cardiologist prescribed the wrong drug and the incorrect drug raised blood pressure even higher, the doctor committed a medical error. Best practice would show the cardiologist prescribing a common blood pressure medication.
Even if the patient reports unpleasant side effects and later wants to switch to another similar medication, the cardiologist did NOT commit a medical error. Basically, doctors must treat patients in a reasonable way.
Common Medical Errors
Mistakes occur in any profession. In the medical field, errors may lead to severe illness or death. So, medical professionals must remain extremely diligent. Some common medical errors include:
- Misdiagnosis– This is one of the most serious errors. Sometimes a wrong diagnosis leads to improper treatment or to no treatment for a serious condition.
- Delayed diagnosis or improper treatment – Similar to misdiagnosis, this presents grave problems for patients. One example would be someone coming to the emergency room with a terrible headache. Hospital workers may assume this episode is a migraine. However, tests should be performed to rule out stroke, aneurysm, or other health issues.
- Surgical errors– Sometimes complications arise during a standard operation. If a patient does not fully recover after a simple operation, contact an attorney. Even worse, there have been reports of patients receiving the wrong operation while in the hospital. Obviously, you need to consult a qualified, experienced medical malpractice attorney in this horrific situation.
- Birth injuries– Many birth injuries are preventable. It’s vital to consult with a medical malpractice attorney if your baby was injured during childbirth.
- Infection- Hospitals, medical offices, and nursing homes must adhere to the strictest sanitation procedures. No patient should acquire an infection from a medical facility.
- Medication error– if you are prescribed the wrong medication and notice it immediately, take it back to the pharmacy. However, if you don’t realize it until you become ill, save the bottle, seek medical help, and contact an attorney. If you receive the wrong medicine while in the hospital, there will be a record.
- Faulty medical devices– The FDA recalls medical devices that malfunction. Sometimes, people have died before the defective devices were removed from the market. So, it’s important to investigate if someone you love has any implanted medical device.
Medical Errors Statistics And Deaths
Medical errors happen every day. In fact, according to a John Hopkins study in 2016, more than 250,000 people die from them each year.
Sometimes, these mistakes are caught before any harm takes place. However, when there is a failure to follow the accepted level of care that most medical professionals would provide, the medical error may result in a medical malpractice case. So, if you or a loved one has been hurt or killed by a medical error, consult a medical malpractice attorney for advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are medical errors?
Medical errors encompass a range of different issues and scenarios that are a result of a failure to follow a care plan or when the incorrect care plan is used. Known as errors of omission or commission, these errors can cause serious bodily injury or even death to patients. For example, if someone was misdiagnosed that leads to improper treatment, or a failure to treat a serious condition. Other more notable medical errors include surgical errors, such as having the wrong surgery performed, the wrong limb amputated, etc.
Q. What are the most common medical errors?
The most common medical errors are misdiagnosis, which can happen when proper diagnostic procedures are not followed. This can lead to very serious negative consequences for patients, as they can have improper medication prescribed, incorrect treatment given or in the most grave of circumstances have the incorrect surgeries performed. In certain cases, especially those involving medication or incorrect treatment, this can result in the death of the patient.
How common are medical errors?
Medical errors are a lot more common than most realize. In fact, many healthcare industry experts estimate that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. The FDA receives more than 100,000 reports annually of medication errors alone, with likely many more going unreported. Additionally, the overall misdiagnosis rate is approximately 10-15% across all types of medical scenarios, which is quite high.
How many people die from medical errors?
While there has not been a recent study on the matter, most estimates put the annual number of deaths as a result of medical errors at approximately 200,000 to 400,000 individuals. Florida is one of the leading states for medical errors, in part due to the secrecy often afforded to doctors and medical professionals and the state’s regulatory agency, the Florida Board of Medicine.