Individuals and families put a lot of trust in healthcare providers. Unfortunately, that trust is not always rewarded. What happens if you or someone you love is the victim of a medical mistake or surgical error? Medical mistakes and surgical errors are a far more common problem than any of us could ever imagine. In fact, researchers believe medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Medical errors fall only behind heart disease and cancer.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins also estimate as many as 250,000 deaths each year occur due to medical errors and mistakes. That number accounts for 9.5% of all deaths in the U.S.
In 2010, the National Quality Forum (NQF) coined the term “never events” to describe serious reportable medical errors. They are called never events because they are events that should never happen, such as operating on the wrong body part or patient. Shocking errors during medical care should not go unnoticed by the healthcare industry, regulators or lawmakers. To help, the NQF continues to revise and update the list of “serious reportable events” that qualify as never events, and offer guidance for how to avoid these issues.
What are Medical Mistakes?
Medical mistakes occur when there is any type of medical error during the health care process. Sometimes these errors are truly accidents and have no impact on the patient. But other times, medical errors have a tremendous impact on the patient’s health. Sadly, in many other cases, medical errors are fatal. A medical error or mistake can happen in any aspect of medical care.
Errors occur throughout the health care process:
- Medication prescribing and administration
- Anesthesia administration and monitoring
- Diagnostic process
- Delayed diagnosis
- Delay in treatment
- Inadequate follow-up
- Inadequate monitoring
- Technical medical errors
- Inadequate review of medical records
Most Common Mistakes or Errors
While the types of medical mistakes and surgical errors spread across a very broad definition and can range wildly in severity, these are the most commonly reported:
- Improper prescription dosing or administration resulting in adverse events, including death
- Pharmacy Errors and/or Malpractice
- Injuries from falls or immobility while under the care of a healthcare professional
- Injuries to children during labor and delivery
- Failure to diagnose or treat an illness resulting in long term damage
- Improper care resulting in bedsores or pressure ulcers
- Performing surgery on the wrong body part
- Improper care and treatment of surgical wound resulting in infections at surgical site
- Retained objects or leaving foreign objects in the body after surgery
Anyone suffering from any of these or other situations should carefully consider their legal rights and options. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Houston to learn more. Your situation may seem complicated, but you are not alone.
Common Causes of Medical Errors
There are a variety of potential factors that lead a healthcare provider to make a medical error. Some of the more common causes include the following:
Breakdown in communication is one of the leading causes of medical errors or mistakes. Both verbal and written miscommunications or lack of communication can cause serious errors in diagnosis or treatment.
Inadequate Flow of Information
During medical care, the flow of information is extremely important. Information about the patient, diagnosis and treatment must follow the patient and be communicated accurately in medical records. If the patient transfers locations, the flow of information must then continue to the next facility.
Human errors occur when the standards of care are not met, or when carelessness or negligence prevails. Human errors include poor documentation, inadequate labeling, lack of training, improperly reading medical records, improperly interpreting vital signs, and more.
During care, patients must be properly identified and documented. Healthcare providers make errors when the patient is not identified, assessed and educated appropriately. Also, when healthcare providers fail to obtain consent, the process of treatment or procedures can become questionable.
Inadequate staffing and staffing problems can lead to healthcare providers and caregivers being in a hurry or being distracted. When staffing is low in hospitals and nursing homes, healthcare providers are more likely to make a medical error. Fatigue and illness are often causes for short or inadequate staffing. But with regulations on staffing in healthcare facilities, they are not an excuse for poor quality or negligent care.
Technical failures can lead to errors when medical devices are defective or fail. Implants, grafts, equipment, vital sign monitors, surgical robots – any medical device can fail or become defective, and the results can be dangerous for patients. Healthcare facilities and providers must stay up-to-date on medical device safety alerts and recalls. Using a device that is known to be defective or dangerous is a type of negligence.
What to do if a Medical Error Happens to You
What can (or should) you do if a medical error or mistake happens to you? First, you need to understand this: you have rights. Healthcare professionals have a legal responsibility to provide medical care as is expected and required by the medical community. If your medical professional or healthcare provider has not met this standard of care, then you may possible have a medical negligence claim.
Victims of medical mistakes and surgical errors face a lifetime of challenges that include emotional distress, the inability to return to a comparable quality of life, as well as what seems to be an ever-growing mountain of expenses that can lead to financial unrest. Patient safety is paramount, and when medical errors occur, the impact on the patient and their family can be devastating.
If your injury is the result of medical malpractice or negligence, fighting for your rights will not be easy. You are facing some of the biggest companies in the world that have entire legal teams with what seems like hundreds of lawyers and insurance adjusters on their side. The fight is complicated and can be stressful, particularly in states that have enacted laws aimed to protect healthcare workers and minimize their responsibilities. You need an attorney that is experienced and has a proven track record of winning cases like yours.
At MedMalFirm.com, we are ready to help fight for you and your family. We have years of experience handling cases involving medical errors and medical negligence throughout the United States. Our team has successfully helped numerous clients obtain justice and compensation.
Learn more by calling MedMalFirm.com today. We will review your case at no cost to you. Contact our office today by simply filling out the contact form, or by calling 877-887-4850. We will help you understand your rights and work with you to hold those responsible for your situation accountable.