Pennsylvanians who are trying to stay on top of their health or address issues that concern them will do the obvious thing by going to seek medical care. When visiting a medical facility, a hospital or a physician’s private practice, there is an understandable presumption that the care provided will be top-notch and any condition, illness or injury will be accurately diagnosed and properly treated. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis, wrong-site surgery, improper medication, anesthesia errors and other egregious missteps cause injuries, worsened condition, unexpected illness and death. For people who are concerned about whether they are being treated as they should be, it is important to remain vigilant. A crucial aspect includes recognizing the most common medical errors.
Recognizing the most frequently occurring medical errors
Researchers have done extensive analysis of medical errors to try to prevent them. In one study that centered on emergency medical care, diagnostic mistakes happened most often. This could involve a failure to accurately diagnose, delaying the diagnosis or making a wrong diagnosis. There is a litany of underlying mistakes in these three categories.
If, for example, a person’s medical condition would have been discovered had they been given an MRI and it was not done, this is a failure to order a necessary diagnostic test. Another example would be a person whose condition warranted admission to the hospital and they were prematurely discharged from the emergency department only to have an event after leaving the facility. Strokes, heart attacks, embolism, meningitis, cancers and appendicitis are other medical problems that are wrongfully diagnosed or missed completely.
Perhaps a treating physician or other medical professional in the emergency room did not adequately follow up with a patient, did not order the tests that would have discovered what the person was facing or did not account for chronic conditions. Giving the wrong medication based on an adverse reaction with other medications the person is taking could be problematic. If people who do not speak the same language as the medical professionals are brought in for treatment, this too can lead to lapses. Inability to communicate, not looking at medical information and failures with the doctor-patient relationship can also cause an error. Even electronic health records can be the cause of a medical error as the wrong patient could be put into the computer and treatment might be inappropriate due to mistaken identity.
How can these mistakes be avoided?
Medical professionals are advised to look at the patient as an individual and not make automatic assumptions based on the initial assessment. One medical complaint might appear to be something innocuous but is in fact very serious. It is easy for medical professionals – especially those with extensive experience – to fall into the trap of thinking they know what is wrong with a patient before doing a deep dive into all the possible causes. When handing a patient off to another medical professional, it should be known who specifically will oversee any follow-up.
Unexpected medical problems could stem from medical malpractice
It is easy to say that every patient should be given strict attention, but in a busy facility, this can be complicated and be the catalyst to dangerous blunders. This can impact anyone regardless of their age, circumstances, medical condition and symptoms. Many people might be reluctant to pursue legal action because they think there is a stigma attached to it. This allows medical professionals to commit medical malpractice and move on, possibly putting others in jeopardy.
Those who have had a family member suffer harm or were harmed themselves should know that this can lead to financial, personal, professional and emotional hardships that must be addressed. Holding medical professionals accountable when they make a life-changing error is a patient’s right and their family’s right. Having empathetic and caring help is important when determining how to pursue a case.