Medical and hospital errors are the third leading cause of all deaths in the United States alone with cancer and heart disease ranking first and second, respectively.
Research done at Johns Hopkins University between 2013 and 2016 found that the number of deaths from medical mistakes such as hospital errors was between 250,000 and 400,000.
Despite the best intentions and efforts, mistakes can still happen, and hospital errors can still impact patients.
One of the best things you can do to help reduce the chances of experiencing hospital errors is to familiarize yourself with some of the most common types of medical mistakes in hospitals.
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
Doctors and medical practitioners are trained to consider the most likely cause or reason for a patient's current situation or health condition. And for the majority of cases, this first assessment is often correct.
Sometimes, however, whether it's because hospitals are experiencing a surge in patients or are understaffed, doctors may rush through what initially looks like a simple condition.
While not all medical conditions are alike; many are very similar, especially in the early stages. Certain health conditions will worsen if they are not treated when they first present symptoms, and misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can have a significant impact on a patient's life.
For example, many lung cancer patients experience a cough as their first symptom, which can often be misdiagnosed as respiratory irritation or infection, allergies, the common cold, or even COVID-19. A patient who receives an inaccurate diagnosis might be given the wrong medicine or fail to receive the appropriate medication or medical treatment until much later.
Because of the delay in receiving the correct diagnosis, patients could experience permanent damage or have to undergo surgery that would otherwise have been avoidable if they had been correctly diagnosed when they first sought medical attention.
Birth injuries include pain, suffering, or harm that a baby experiences before, during, or following childbirth. These injuries can be permanent, impacting the overall quality of life the baby will experience and can lead to a lifetime of secondary medical complications stemming from the initial birth injury.
Thankfully, most birth injuries are avoidable; those that do occur are frequently the result of medical malpractice.
Birth injuries can include oxygen deprivation which can result in brain damage, Cerebral Palsy, blindness, paralysis, other related conditions, infections (bacterial or viral, etc.) for the baby or mother.
Hospital error birth injuries can also include failure to provide appropriate medical treatment during childbirth, such as failing to respond to fetal distress indicators.
For example, if the hospital fails to connect a fetal heartbeat monitor to the mother, or the heartbeat isn't monitored to ensure the baby's heartbeats per minute are within a safe and acceptable range, they could miss early signs of fetal distress. If the baby's heart rate drops, an emergency cesarean section could be necessary to ensure the baby doesn't experience oxygen deprivation.
Hospital medication errors affect hundreds of thousands of American lives every year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration receives more than 100,000 medication error reports each year, with more than 8,500 deaths attributed to medication errors annually.
Emergency department hospital errors are the third most common cause of medication errors, including incorrect dosage, incorrect medications, and overdoses.
Patients who receive the wrong medicine can suffer severe consequences, including congenital disabilities, hospitalization, disability, or death.
Medication errors can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- your doctor prescribed the wrong medication for you
- the nurse administered the incorrect dosage
- the pharmacist dispensed the wrong medication or dose or provided incorrect instructions on how to take the medication
- the hospital equipment responsible for administering the correct dosage didn’t work as it was intended
Whether during or after surgery or while in post-operative care, surgical hospital errors can have devastating consequences for patients, including dangerous medical complications, infections, or even death.
Surgical hospital errors can occur in several different ways, including:
- operating on the wrong body part
- performing the wrong surgery
- performing surgery on the wrong patient
- making the incision in an incorrect location
- leaving a foreign object inside a patient during surgery
Anesthesia errors, including anesthesia awareness (waking up during surgery), can have a lasting effect on patients. Hospital errors such as anesthesiologist mistakes or miscalculations, can result in permanent injury or brain damage for patients.
These hospital errors can be the result of the following:
- medical professionals failing to thoroughly investigate a patient's complete medical history
- administering too much or too little anesthesia during the surgery
- not informing a patient about potential risks if they don't follow preoperative instructions precisely as outlined
- not monitoring or failing to accurately monitor a patient's vital signs during the medical procedure.
While this list of hospital errors is not intended to be exhaustive, it does give you an idea of how easily they can happen.
Medical malpractice resulting from hospital errors can occur when a doctor, specialist, nurse, other medical practitioners, or medical facility fails to provide the appropriate healthcare.
The majority of medical professionals and hospitals take great care to ensure patients receive the best possible care. And thankfully, the number of medical malpractice cases from hospital errors that take place each year remains small.
Medical malpractice is more than a mistake occurring or a patient being upset with their treatment or hospital experience. It involves negligence.
If you or a loved one have suffered pain, suffering, or damages — including financial damages — because a medical professional or facility has acted below the standard of care, you may have experienced medical malpractice.
This is where speaking with a medical malpractice attorney can help.
With 25 years of malpractice experience in Michigan, the medical malpractice experts at Grover Lewis Johnson listen to your situation and help you identify whether medical malpractice has occurred. If it has, we will work with you to find the best solution for your situation, whether that's filing a medical malpractice lawsuit or working toward a settlement.
A medical malpractice lawsuit does more than just help you get the compensation you deserve; holding the responsible party accountable can reduce the risk of this happening again in the future. Schedule your no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice experts today.