Top 10 Medical Mistakes

Top 10 Medical Mistakes
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What Medical Mistakes are likely to cause a Medical Malpractice lawsuit?

National Public Radio (NPR) has reported some staggering statistics about medical mistakes:

  • In 1999, it was determined that 98,000 people a year die from medical mistakes, according to the Institute of Medicine.
  • In 2010, 180,000 patients had a wrongful death from mistakes in Medicare alone, according to the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • In the newest issue of Journal for Patient Safety, the numbers go up to between
    210,000 and 440,000

Doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical professionals are humans who do make mistakes. But when medical mistakes causes pain, emotional distress, or physical trauma, or worse, to you or someone you love, it is your right to bring up a legal suit against them for your suffering.

Here are the top 10 medical mistakes to be aware of.

Operating on the Wrong Body Part

A surgeon may be negligent in the operating room that involves operating on the wrong body part. There are a variety of reasons why this occurs, including having inaccurate information on the patient’s chart, incorrect surgical draping, or the surgeon misreading the patient’s chart. If the wrong body part is operated on, it may mean unnecessary future surgeries, and in more severe cases, damaging or losing a perfectly fine limb or organ.

Operating on the Wrong Patient

If you thought operating on the wrong body part was shocking, think again. Another medical mistake involves a surgeon performing an operation on the wrong patient. Like many other malpractice issues, this is often the result of improper verification or administrative procedures. Losing or mixing up paperwork, or having staff that did not verify the patient’s identity when prior to surgery are both causes of this medical error.

Surgical Tools or Accessories Left in the Body

According to the Beckers Hospital Review, 24 percent of medical malpractice cases are the result of surgery mistakes. One of them is leaving surgical tools or accessories in the body prior to closing the surgical site. Items such as towels, gloves, or scalpels have been left in the body, and have led to infection, swelling, and pain.

Childbirth Injuries

Injuries during childbirth are also a significant malpractice risk. Medical malpractice childbirth mistakes may involve injury to a child’s brain, which has led to seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, or nerve damage. In other cases, the baby received fractured bones when pulled from the birth canal. Negligence during childbirth includes using forceps incorrectly and not responding to fetal distress.

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Another common medical mistake made by medical professionals involves providing the wrong diagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. In both cases, it can lead to improper care. In some cases, the diagnosis was delayed and early treatment was not sought in time. In other cases, painful tests and procedures were performed when they didn't need to be, as the medical condition was less severe than what was originally diagnosed.

Emergency Room Malpractice

It’s important to point out that some of the medical malpractice errors occur in the emergency room. Physicians Weekly reported that approximately four percent of malpractice cases occur in the emergency room, with roughly 1,400 doctors sued for this very type of suit in 2013 alone. Some emergency room medical malpractice cases occur as a result of a patient not being seen fast enough while in the emergency room, while others occur during ER treatments.

Infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 4 percent of patients that seek treatment in a hospital, or 1 in 25 people, will develop at least one infection during their stay. While progress is being made to battle these healthcare-associated infections, the fact of the matter is that nearly three-quarters of a million infections still endanger hospital patients. Some infections may be able to be prevented simply by medical professionals always washing hands and tools thoroughly, and being sure to wear sanitary gloves during surgery and other procedures.

Under or Over Dosage of Anesthesia

Anesthesia is used to numb a patient or put them to sleep during surgical procedures. The anesthesiologist must know exactly how much anesthesia is needed to keep the patient asleep for a designated period of time. If he or she uses too much, it can lead to problems just as quickly as not enough and having them wake up during surgery. Negligence with anesthesia may happen due to too much or too little medication, or from not monitoring the patient closely enough during the surgery and looking for signs of needing more. Either way, it is a medical mistake that may call for a medical malpractice claim.

Medication Mistakes

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), a medication mistake is defined as a preventative event that caused harm as a result of medication prescribed. This could be prescribing too much or too little of a medication for a particularly condition or failing to look at a patient’s medical chart and giving them a wrong combination of medications or doses.

Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice

Cosmetic surgery malpractice is another common medical mistake that occurs every year. Some examples of cosmetic-related malpractice claims include emotional trauma, excessive scarring, aesthetic problems, nerve damage, dispensing the wrong medication, negligence, and wrongful death in rare cases.

If you are facing a potential medical malpractice case from insufficient or negligent medical care, seek help from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

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About the author

Thomas Richardson

Tommy Richardson, owner and president of the AV-Rated law firm of Friedl Richardson Trial Lawyers in Phoenix, focuses exclusively on personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Since 2009, Tommy has sat on the Board of Governors for Arizona Trial Lawyers and in 2011 was appointed by Governor Jan Brewer and confirmed by the Arizona Senate to the Maricopa Judicial Selection Committee. Tommy represents plaintiffs in trial work in Maricopa, Greenlee, Pima, Pinal, Mohave, Yuma, Apache, Gila, Cochise, La Paz, Coconino and Navajo counties. Tommy is the co-chair of the seminar committee for the Arizona Association for Justice/Arizona Trial Lawyers and is involved in the American Association for Justice and American Trial Lawyers.