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Common Medical Errors to Watch Out For

More than 250,000 Americans die each year because of medical errors and hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries due to medical mistakes. Although you want to trust your doctor and every member of your medical professional team, the truth is, those individuals often fail to make your health the first priority while providing medical care.

As a patient, you should be informed about all aspects of your medical care. Knowing the most common types of medical errors can help you recognize when you or a family member has fallen victim to medical malpractice.

Childbirth Injuries

Childbirth injuries can be some of the most devastating injuries caused by medical errors. At a time in your life when your family should be rejoicing the most, injuries to your infant can leave your family grief-stricken.

Childbirth injuries are commonly caused by incompetent use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, failure to diagnose medical conditions in the mother or baby, and failure to respond to signs of fetal distress.

Medication Errors

Medication errors affect more than a million people across the nation each year. Although any patient may be harmed by a medication error, patients transitioning from a hospital stay to at-home care are at a high risk for mix-ups in medication due to the potential for miscommunications in the transition.

Medication errors occur in a variety of ways. The initial prescription may be written for an incorrect medication or incorrect dosage. Nurses or caregivers may fail in following directions when administering the medication. Pharmacists may fill a prescription with the wrong medication or the wrong dosage.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia errors are one type of medication error that is completely avoidable. Unfortunately, these mistakes cause approximately 150 deaths each year. Anesthesia errors include the use of two much or two little anesthesia as well as interactions with other drugs that cause injury and death.

Wrong Site Surgery

Wrong-site surgery is considered a “never event” meaning it should never happen. When it does, it is usually because of inadequate systems and protocols at the hospital or medical facility. While the surgeon may be responsible, in many cases, the hospital or surgery center may also bear some responsibility.

Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can result in catastrophic injury and death. Without a correct diagnosis, a patient will miss out on potentially life-saving treatments, especially with delayed diagnoses for cancer and other fatal diseases.

As a patient, you trust your doctors to make the correct diagnosis, but it is difficult to recognize when their conduct falls below acceptable standards of care. Getting a second opinion can save your life in some cases.


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