What Are the Top 5 Medical Errors?

Medical Malpractice

You go to the doctor to get treatment for your ailments, not to suffer further injury. Unfortunately, medical errors are all too common, injuring or killing hundreds of thousands of people each year.

If a doctor, nurse, or some other healthcare professional injured you or someone you love through their negligence or wrongdoing, you could obtain compensation. However, you need to consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your case and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Leading Medical Mistakes

Virigian Attorney for Medical MalparcticeA medical error is any preventable mistake a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider makes during treatment that leads to a patient suffering undue harm. Johns Hopkins University claims more than 250,000 people die each year because of medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease. The most common medical errors that injure and kill so many every year include:

1. Diagnosis errors

Diagnostic errors include failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis, or incorrect or misdiagnosis. They can result from a physician not asking enough questions or not asking the right questions during evaluation. Errors can also result if a doctor does not order the proper tests and diagnostic procedures or reads the results incorrectly.

Even if a doctor makes an accurate diagnosis, they may do so after it is too late to do anything to treat the condition. Colon, lung, and breast cancer are among the top for delayed diagnosis, and other common delayed or misdiagnosis errors include strokes, sepsis, heart attacks, embolisms, and brain hemorrhages.

Diagnosis errors occur most often in emergency rooms, operating rooms, and intensive care units, although they can happen in any clinical setting. Doctors may have missed important information regarding the patient, either by failing to fully consider the patient’s symptoms or outright disregarding them. They may have missed an item in a patient’s medical chart, or they may have simply made a mistake due to fatigue or stress.

2. Medication errors

Medication errors refer to preventable events that cause a patient to receive inappropriate medication or suffer harm from receiving medication. Any party involved in prescribing and dispensing medication can make medication errors, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

The most common medication errors include:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Administering or dispensing the wrong medication
  • Failing to prescribe the correct medication
  • Administering an incorrect dosage
  • Giving a patient medication too late, too early, or too often
  • Giving a patient a drug not meant for them
  • Failing to consider the possible negative effects on a patient’s medical condition
  • Failing to consider adverse drug interactions or allergies
  • Falling to follow proper protocol regarding prescribing and dispensing medication

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives over 100,000 reports of medication errors throughout the country each year from consumers, healthcare providers, and drug manufacturers. Medication errors can cause serious harm and result in birth defects, life-threatening health conditions, disability, hospitalization, and death. Also, numerous lawsuits have arisen over dangerous medications.

3. Surgical errors

Sometimes, surgeons operate on the wrong site or perform the wrong procedure. Examples include mistakenly operating on the wrong knee or performing an unnecessary invasive procedure. In some cases, a surgeon can get patients mixed up and perform heart surgery on a patient who was scheduled for an appendectomy, for instance.

Surgical errors can also result if the surgeon damages other organs in the process, such as if they perforate your intestines while removing your gall bladder. They can also mistakenly remove a healthy organ and leave the damaged one. Additionally, a surgeon or their team can leave objects inside you during the operation, which will require additional surgeries to fix.

4. Falls

Injuries from falls affect millions of patients each year, and around 33 percent are preventable. Patients fall because their medication makes them dizzy or because they do not have the ability to physically support themselves and walk due to their health or medical condition.

Doctors, nurses, and all medical staff should be aware of a patient’s likeliness to fall and take measures to prevent it. They should develop a safety plan to reduce the risk of harm to the patient and follow it to the letter. If healthcare providers were negligent in monitoring you or your loved one, and you suffered an injury from falling, you need to consult an attorney for medical malpractice to understand your options for obtaining compensation.

5. Infections

Infections can arise from a variety of causes, and they can cause serious and life-threatening harm to patients. Hospitals and physicians must keep their environments clean and safe, and they must sterilize any instruments they use for surgery or medical evaluations.

Many infections are treatable if caught early, but an infection allowed to fester will be harder to treat and manage. Infections can also re-occur and flare up without warning, so healthcare providers must constantly monitor patients for any signs of infection and act promptly.

Other medical errors

Medical errors also include discharging patients too quickly and not providing them with proper self-care instructions. Many times, patients will go home to recover only to have to rush back to the hospital because of complications.

Additionally, defective or harmful medical devices injure or kill thousands of people each year, and numerous lawsuits have arisen over defective or dangerous mesh implants, artificial joints, and pacemakers, among others.

Finally, patients can lie in bed too long and develop pressure ulcers and bedsores. Not only do they cause considerable discomfort, but they can also become infected. Medical staff should regularly move patients to prevent pressure sores, and failure to do so can constitute neglect.

Common Denominator of Medical Errors

Edward McNelis - Virginia Lawyer for Medical Malpractice
Edward McNelis, Medical Malpractice Attorney

No matter the cause, all medical errors have one common denominator: they would not have happened were it not for the negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing of your healthcare provider.

Since no two medical malpractice lawsuits are the same, you need a thorough review of your case from an experienced medical malpractice attorney to understand your rights and options. A medical malpractice lawyer can advise you of your best course of action and fight for you to help you get the compensation you need and the justice you feel you deserve.

In most states, including the commonwealth of Virginia you only have two years after your injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, so you need to contact a Virginia personal injury attorney immediately for a confidential consultation.