Medical errors are a significant problem in the health care industry. Anything can go wrong during a routine checkup or complex procedure, from miscalculations to misdiagnoses.
A recent study found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, causing more than 210,000 deaths yearly. Many experts believe this number is much higher, as many medical errors go unreported.
Continuing health care crisis
Medical errors can cause countless issues in the health care system, leading to both physical and financial harm. Common causes of medical errors are often rooted in preventable problems such as poor communication, lack of standardization procedures, staffing shortages and fatigue.
Poor communication can lead to misinterpretations of requests and patient information, the inability of health care teams to adequately collaborate and incomplete follow-ups. Standardized procedures help bridge communication gaps left by verbal directives, ensuring everyone is on the same page. An absence of these can lead to confused or omitted instructions, which may negatively impact patient outcomes.
Staffing shortages also impede care and have been associated with increased mortality rates. Lastly, fatigue due to long work hours can heavily influence decision-making capabilities, further increasing the risk of medical errors.
Despite rigorous safety protocols and the best intentions of medical professionals, it is still likely that a hospital patient will experience a preventable adverse event during their time in the hospital. And some of these incidents can cause further health problems or, in extreme cases, even death. This is why it’s critical to be aware of the risk of medical errors and strive for greater safety in our hospital systems.
Have you or a loved one been harmed due to a medical error? A medical malpractice claim may give you compensation for lost wages and continued medical expenses. But, most important, it will hold health care professionals accountable, so others don’t experience the same tragedy.