When Doctors Make Deadly Mistakes December 18, 2018
Medical errors are the third leading cause of fatalities in the United States, but still health-care workers and the medical field at large are often resistant to talking openly about how and why they happen.
Reader’s Digest conducted interviews with pharmacists, nurses, and doctors as part of a story focusing on the numerous improvements that could be made by promoting open discussions about medical mistakes – in addition to how to avoid them. Failing to create an open dialogue not only holds medical workers back from making improvements, but also hurts – sometimes fatally – their vulnerable and unsuspecting patients.
What Exactly are “Medical Errors”?
Medical errors are defined as unintended acts that fail to achieve their intended outcomes. According to the BMJ, a highly regarded medical journal, there are several kinds of medical mistakes that can be considered medical errors. Errors in planning (e.g. medication regimens and even surgical procedures), errors in execution, and deviations from the standard of care resulting in harm to the patient are all examples of avoidable – but also very common – medical errors.
How Many People Die from Medical Errors?
Whether or not medical employees talk about making mistakes, they still happen – and they happen at a much higher rate than they should. A Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die from medical errors every year. In order to prevent medical mistakes from happening it is crucial to gather data on what the most common ones are, and then to thoroughly investigate ways to effectively recognize and avoid them.
Common Mistakes that Doctors Make
According to the Institute of Medicine, some of the most common medical mistakes that result in the illness, injury, or death of patients are:
- Medication errors: Some examples of medication errors include administering the wrong dose, giving a patient the wrong medication altogether, causing an allergic or adverse reaction from a drug interaction, or administering or prescribing medication(s) that the patient is allergic to;
- Failing to comply with infection prevention standards, which can result in the transmission of deadly health-care-associated infections (such as central line infections and more);
- The misuse of antibiotics: Even though antibiotics usually help to fight off nasty infections, they can also put someone at risk for getting one – especially when they are incorrectly prescribed.
Many health-care professionals admit that there is a culture of denial and shame present in medicine. This culture often makes it difficult to admit to making mistakes, and it also fails to leave room for solutions that protect patients from preventable errors.
When to Talk to a Lawyer
Although some medical mistakes are unavoidable, others are the result of medical negligence. A person may want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim if they sustained injuries after a medical professional failed to treat them in compliance with the accepted standard of care. Failing to meet the standard of care means that a doctor or nurse fails to perform at the same level that someone else in his or her position would be expected to. When this breach in the standard of care causes illness, injury, or death to a patient, it is considered medical negligence and the injured party (or his or her surviving family members) can file a medical malpractice claim.
If you were a victim of medical negligence and have questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, please contact a representative at our firm who can help.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you were a victim of medical negligence, our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers are happy to answer your questions and review your case for free. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at or complete our online contact form.