Modern medicine is a marvel. When you really think about it, it is amazing how far we have come in regards to the treatment and management of various medical conditions over the past century. While there is no question that healthcare has improved by leaps and bounds, it is still not without its hazards. Understanding some of the most common medical mistakes—including medication, diagnostic, procedural, nursing, and follow-up error—is essential for those who want to ensure optimal results and good health when seeking medical treatment.
According to MedicineNet, the most common medical errors often surround the administration and use of prescription medications. In fact, providing a patient with the improper dosage of a specific product has been found to be behind as many as 41% of cases of medical error and negligence. In addition to issuing an improper dosage, using the wrong medication altogether, providing it at the wrong time of day, or failing to use it as directed can all have potentially fatal consequences. Healthcare professionals should be sure to educate themselves on the basics of all prescriptions before issuing them to unsuspecting patients.
Diagnostic error is another of the most common examples of medical mistakes made in the US—and for that matter, around the world. As suggested by the name, a diagnostic error occurs when a healthcare expert inaccurately diagnoses a disease or condition. While diagnosing someone with a more serious condition than what is actually present can be dangerous, failing to recognizing a life-threatening disease is even more serious. Patients who are unsure of the accuracy of their diagnosis should be sure to seek a second opinion from a trained, qualified healthcare provider.
Medical procedures are often designed to provide a remedy for either an acute or chronic health condition. In some cases, they are also used to help medical experts diagnosis a patient with unusual symptoms. Procedural error can include failing to use proper sanitation, performing a procedure on the wrong part of the body—or even on the wrong patient entirely! Obviously, this is one of the most serious medical mistakes, and often one that can have the most deadly consequences.
After undergoing medical treatment, patients often require care from nursing staff. And despite their many years of training and education, nurses may still be prone to medical mistake. Failing to respond to a patient in a timely manner, not recognizing distress signals, and issuing medication/treatment in an inappropriate way can all spell disaster for a delicate patient.
Finally, follow-up error—which usually occurs long after a patient has left the hospital and is returning for a subsequent visit—can also be linked to medical mistakes. In this scenario, a healthcare provider can fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of possible infection, which may be difficult to spot in the early days of recovery. In addition, ignoring shortness of breath, which can indicate respiratory distress and possible pneumonia, is also a common follow-up error. Patients should be frank with their providers and discuss all possible concerns to avoid these dangerous mistakes.