When we go to the doctor, hospital or emergency room, we expect care from trained professionals who are knowledgeable in their specialties and experienced in their field of medicine. However, medical staff, including doctors, are subject to human error. Medical errors are more common than people think.
Medical errors are common
In fact, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States after cancer and heart disease. Mistakes happen even in the best hospitals and the consequences can range from mild to severe. Some errors are more common than others, so it is essential to be aware of and understand what they are.
The most common medical errors include:
- Misdiagnosis of a disease or medical condition
- Medication or medical device errors
- Infections during medical procedures or hospital stays
- Lack of timeliness in finding a diagnosis
Unfortunately, misdiagnoses of medical conditions are extremely common across the country because symptoms of diseases can overlap or be present in many different ailments. In some instances, physicians have the support of scientific tools and highly studied and approved medical exams to diagnose medical conditions. Still, in other cases, they do not and must go by what the patient tells them.
Medication errors or faulty equipment
In a like manner, medication errors and mistakes made from faulty medical equipment are common as well. In certain instances, it could be that the manufacturer mistakenly packages it as something different, or a medical error could occur at the hospital by medical staff who provide incorrect medication to a patient instead of what they are supposed to receive based on their diagnosis.
In the same way, infections are a risk that every patient is exposed to when they are in a hospital or undergo a medical procedure. Most infections are not severe. However, if infections go unnoticed or are left untreated, they can be fatal.
A race against time
Similarly, to the importance of correctly and accurately diagnosing medical conditions, in acute medical cases, analyzing the patient is a race against time. Doctors and nurses have only a limited time to diagnose the patient before it worsens and becomes irreversible.
Even though medical errors are common, you can sometimes play a part in helping prevent these mistakes from happening by engaging with your medical professionals, asking questions, educating yourself, advocating for yourself and listening to your instinct. It may be worth asking for a second opinion if something feels wrong.