Recently, a study that found that medical errors are far more frequent than most people imagine. In fact, medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the United States. Because there is no code for indicating medical errors as a cause of death, these deaths are not tracked. If the incidence of deaths as a result of medical errors is this high, then it is likely that there is also a good deal of non-fatal harm caused by medical errors. A person or the loved ones of a person who suffers as a result of medical errors about what they can do.
Major medical errors such as leaving surgical sponges behind in a patient or wrong-site surgery are known as “never events” because they are never supposed to happen. In some cases, a hospital or surgeon might try to cover up or minimize such an error. These are among the rarer types of errors, but they can also be the most devastating.
Medication errors are surprisingly common. Fortunately, not all of them are harmful or fatal, but some can be. Nursing protocols teach an approach to dispensing medication known as the “five rights.” This involves ensuring that it is the right medication, the right patient, the right dosage, the right timing and the right manner of dispensing the medication. Unfortunately, because of a lack of communication, distraction, or for other reasons, errors still might happen. Doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals may also dispense the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage.
Medical professionals may misinterpret test results or dismiss a patient’s symptoms if that patient does not meet the typical profile for a certain condition. This can lead to a delay in treatment that can cause a significant medical setback.
These are just a few of the types of medical errors that can cause serious harm or setbacks to a person’s treatment. A lawsuit against the responsible parties may lead to compensation.