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What Is A Medical Error?


Most healthcare providers are careful to abide by the professional and scientific standards required of their profession, which enables them to properly diagnose and treat millions of patients every year. Unfortunately, not all providers use the care that they should and many commit medical errors, some of which end up proving deadly for the patients involved. In fact, one Johns Hopkins study suggests that medical errors may account for more than ten percent of all deaths in the U.S.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are one of the most common types of medical errors and tend to have some of the most devastating results, as even a small delay in treatment could significantly reduce a patient’s chances of making a full recovery. Diagnostic errors occur for a lot of reasons; some physicians fail to order the proper tests or scans due to an oversight or simple carelessness. In other cases, defective medical equipment or errors in reading scans could be the root of the problem.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are another common type of medical error and include everything from operating on the wrong patient or leaving instruments or foreign objects inside a patient to failing to monitor a patient or making an anesthesia error. In some cases, victims of surgical errors can recover quickly. A minor infection, for instance, can be treated with antibiotics. The results of other surgical errors, however, can be much more serious. Anesthesia errors, for instance, can cause irreparable brain damage and leaving medical devices inside a patient could result in sepsis and multiple system failure.

Medication Errors

Some patients, even when diagnosed correctly, could end up the victims of a medication error. Unlike the other types of medical errors, these types of mistakes can happen not just in hospitals and doctor’s offices, but also in pharmacies. Examples of medication errors include:

  • Prescribing the incorrect medication;
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage; and
  • Failing to check for allergic reactions or drug interactions.

These kinds of mistakes may not seem as dramatic as surgical errors, but can have consequences that are just as severe. The child of an expectant mother, for instance, who is prescribed the wrong medication could suffer from permanent birth defects.

Labor and Delivery Errors

A person doesn’t need to be ill initially in order to become the victim of a medical error. Failing to monitor the oxygen levels of an expectant mother or her child, for instance, can result in brain damage to the baby and serious health risks for the mother. Misusing forceps or vacuums can cause permanent disability for the baby, while failing to keep a sterile environment can lead to serious infections for the mother. Infections and secondary complications aren’t only limited to pregnant patients. For instance, infections can develop after any surgery if a staff member failed to properly sanitize a room or the medical instruments being used.

Were You Injured by a Medical Professional?

Doctors and medical providers who make serious medical errors can and should be held accountable for the harm they cause. To learn more about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida, call the dedicated Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys at Boone & Davis today.




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