Mistakes are made by all humans. However, some mistakes prove costlier than others – in terms of either physical or mental damages to the receiver and financially to the maker. Mistakes made by healthcare professionals fall under this category and result in medical malpractice cases against the professional concerned. Medical malpractice is said to occur when the healthcare provider has been negligent and the care provided is not up to the accepted standard. Within the ambit of errors that lead to these malpractice suits, there are certain types of errors that seem to crop up more often than others. Given below are some of the more common medical errors that may result in malpractice suits.
Delayed or Misdiagnosis
A delayed diagnosis will result in precious time wasted – time during which the patient could have started getting treatment. This can lead to severe complications or even death, depending on the severity of the problem. Similarly, misdiagnosis can not only cause delay to the correct treatment for the problem, it can complicate the issue further due to the wrong treatment of the problem. It is of paramount importance that healthcare professionals ask for further tests or consult other professionals if there is any doubt about the cause of the illness. Referring the patient for a second opinion is far better than making a mistake in the diagnosis.
Medication errors are probably the most common of medical errors, resulting in over a million patients suffering from this every year. Medication errors can occur due to a number of causes – bad handwriting, wrong medication due to misdiagnosis, wrong dosage either by the doctor or the administrator of the medicine (if administered by a healthcare professional), malfunction of the equipment used to administer the medication, drugs that have passed their expiry date, the wrong drug administered in a hospital and many other. It is important to double check the patient’s previous history, their reaction to drugs that might trigger allergies and explain the dosage and method of administering the drug to the patient.
Errors related to Anesthesia
Errors related to anesthesia can be more dangerous for the patient than even surgical errors. Mistakes made while administering anesthesia can not only cause injuries of a permanent nature like damage to the brain, but can also result in the death of the patient. Errors made by an anesthetist can be due to administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia, failure to monitor the patient’s vital signs while the patient is under the influence of the drug, intubating the patient incorrectly or the use of faulty or defective equipment. Errors also occur if the anesthetist does not investigate the patient’s medical history which may point to complications that may arise with administering anesthesia and also if the patient is not informed of the precautions to be taken both pre and post the administration of anesthesia.
Most surgery errors stem from negligence by the healthcare professional/s. Complications arising during surgery may or may not be solved – and does not constitute a medical error. However, operating on the wrong body part, puncturing other internal organs, leaving behind surgical instruments inside the patient, etc., all constitute medical errors and will lead to a malpractice suit. Negligence during post-operative care also constitutes medical error. It is important for healthcare professionals involved with surgery to be alert and focused during the procedure and in the care that follows.
Errors relating to Childbirth
Errors relating to childbirth can take place during the tenure of the pregnancy or during childbirth itself. Negligence, lack of proper care, incorrect medication, misdiagnosis of the mother’s condition is some of the causes for errors in prenatal care. Negligence during childbirth can be due to the wrong use of forceps or vacuum extractor,complications arising due to failure to respond to distress signs made by the fetus, not ordering a cesarean when required or even failure to anticipate complications when previous tests indicate that there could be some.
While it is true that no healthcare professional would knowingly harm a patient, it is expected that they would also not allow errors to take place. There could be multiple reasons why a healthcare professional failed to restrict an error, but that does not generally hold any value in a malpractice suit. After all, the patient goes to the healthcare professional because they are knowledgeable experts in treating illness and providing healthcare.
- 12 Most Common Medical Errors (And How to Prevent Them). (2016). Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.pharmacytechniciancertification.net: http://pharmacytechniciancertification.net/12-most-common-medical-errors-and-how-to-prevent-them/
- Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. (2016). Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.myphiladelphiainjurylawyer.com: http://myphiladelphiainjurylawyer.com/medical-malpractice/errors-by-doctors-and-hospitals/
- Michon, K. (2016). Medical Malpractice: Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.nolo.com: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-common-errors-doctors-hospitals-32289.html
- Miller, A. M. (2015, March 30). 5 Common Preventable Medical Errors. Retrieved May 20, 216, from http://www.health.usnews.com: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/slideshows/5-common-preventable-medical-errors/1