The Three Most Common and Serious Preventable Medical Errors

People die from medical errors

According to research released last month, as many as one out of every four patients suffer from a medical error every year.

The Foundation for the Development of Innovative Health Safety, a Boston-based, international nonprofit organization focused on improving medical care, published in January a white paper on medical errors that harm patients in this country and around the world. It examined treatment in hospitals as well as outpatient medical centers to evaluate the physical and economic toll medical errors take on patients and their families.

1 Out of 4 Patients Harmed by Medical Errors

It concluded as many as 25% of patients either at hospitals or outpatient centers are harmed because of a medical error.  And it found that nearly eight out of every 10 medical errors were preventable.

The research (“Challenges and Opportunities for the Improvement of Health Systems”) looked at patient medical treatment in 34 countries, including the United States.

The study honed in on what it calls the three most common medical errors:

·         Medication errors

·         Surgical errors and related post-surgical infections

·         Misdiagnosis

It noted that mistakes made during surgery account for the most number of preventable patient deaths in the United States, but serious drug administration mistakes are climbing.

Serious Medication Errors and Steps to Prevent Them

According to the white paper, adverse drug events account for 100,000 hospitalizations every year in the United States. It cites several examples of medication errors – improper dosages, wrong administration technique, or not administering a prescribed medication – as well as their causes, which include:

·         Illegible handwriting

·         Excessive workload by nurses, doctors, or pharmacists

·         Drug labeling errors

It also highlights evidence that nearly half of patients transitioning from inpatient care to outpatient care suffer at least one medical error.

Solutions to medication errors are also included in the research, such as computerized drug order entry systems that eliminate handwritten instructions and automated dispensing cabinets for the most powerful of medications.

In terms of serious surgical errors, some of the examples included in the white paper are:

·         Leaving a foreign object in the patient

·         Operating on the wrong site

·         Performing the wrong surgical procedure

·         Anesthesia errors – identified as the most deadly surgical mistake

The most common and preventable adverse event found following surgery was a hospital-acquired infection.  Hospitals should implement procedures that incorporate computerized and human checks to safeguard against serious surgery errors, per the paper.

Misdiagnosis is a serious medical error that includes a missed diagnosis, the wrong diagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis, any of which can seriously harm a patient.  The white paper recommends doctors rely more heavily on technology that offers diagnostic solutions and enhances a doctor’s experience and diagnostic skills to reduce the number of dangerously wrong or missed patient diagnoses.

Patients go to hospitals and outpatient treatment centers to get better.  Sometimes, they don’t, through no fault of their providers.  But when patients are gravely injured because mistakes were made that should have been avoided, those responsible should be held accountable.

If you had a loved one die or seriously harmed while receiving medical care and you believe a mistake was made during treatment, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog February 12, 2020