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Medical Errors


You don’t want to distrust your doctors and nurses. Unfortunately, when it comes to your health and safety, you can’t be too careful. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than 250,000 lives every year according to a study published by John Hopkins. What’s tragic is that most of these medical errors are completely preventable- and doctors/medical staff are well aware.

Medical Errors Are Preventable

Patient safety should always be a top priority for doctors and medical professionals in every field of healthcare. However, mistakes in the medical field are continuing to take the lives of nearly 700 every day. While some of these mistakes are due to careless practices, others may be made in the heat of a crisis or out of pure exhaustion by overworked professionals. Even in the best medical facilities, mistakes can occur, but that doesn’t mean patients have to suffer the health consequences or give their lives because of them.

Medical Errors That Kill

Any medical error in a patient’s care can lead to serious injuries, illnesses, or even death, even if the mistakes appear only minor to start. Some of the most common medical errors causing the most harm to patients according to the American Association of Retired People (AARP) include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Sloppy practices
  • Medication errors
  • Dangerous doctors
  • Doctor burnout
  • Infections
  • Knowledge gaps
  • Lack of information
  • Outpatient negligence

Medical professionals are only human, bound to make mistakes at some point in their careers. Unlike a number of other industries, however, people’s lives are directly at risk if a doctor has a ‘bad day’ or a nurse makes a slight error in administering medication.

Most Common Causes

As a patient, you will never be able to prevent all medical errors in your care but knowing the most common causes for the occurrence of these deadly mistakes could help you spot them before they harm you or a loved one. There are eight common causes for most medical errors according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ):

  • Communication problems (most common)
  • Inadequate flow of information
  • Human problems with implementing quality standard of care
  • Patient-related issues (improper identification, assessments, failure to get consent, etc.)
  • Organization transfer of knowledge (deficit in employee trainings and education)
  • Staffing patterns
  • Technical failures
  • Inadequate policies and procedures

These factors can significantly predict the successful recovery and treatment of a patient. Health experts believe by studying and learning from these mistakes, the healthcare industry could begin transforming the standard of care to reduce the number of unnecessary fatalities caused by medical errors in the future- what about the millions of patients at risk right now?

Standing Up For Your Care

Most medical professionals are in the healthcare industry to care for and help others, not to harm them. But this doesn’t mean patients shouldn’t be cautious or stop advocating for themselves if something just doesn’t feel right about their treatment. AHRQ provides tips for patients to help prevent medical errors during their care:

  • Provide a list of all medications and supplements you are taking to any doctor you see for care.
  • Make it known if you have allergies to mediations before accepting new prescriptions or treatments.
  • Don’t just take the medication your doctor prescribes. Make sure you understand what it is and the dosage before you leave the office.
  • Confirm the medication with your pharmacists to avoid errors.
  • Ask for written information about side-effects.
  • Watch the hygiene habits of the health care professionals who are touching you.
  • Ask for a treatment plan when you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Make sure you understand all surgical plans for your care and discuss them with your surgeon well prior to a procedure.
  • Always speak up if you have questions.
  • Ask a family member or friend to come with you to important appointments.
  • Follow up with tests if you do not hear back about the results.
  • Don’t go for unnecessary tests and procedures…you could be better off without them!

NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyers

No patient should have to suffer due to preventable medical errors in their care. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or illness due to medical negligence, our winning team of medical malpractice lawyers is here to fight back. The law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe, and Fein has been seeking justice for patients suffering from unnecessary medical errors in NYC for over 50 years.

Contact us using our convenient online form or feel free to phone us in New York at 212-227-1212, or in Huntington/Long Island at 631-864-2429.

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