Four Common Yet Preventable Medical Mistakes

Doctor holds clipboard with medical error text on a sheet of paperOn average, each year about 200,000 people die and about four million people suffer injuries as a result of medical errors. According to U.S. News and World Report, these errors are preventable—which means they should have never occurred in the first place.

Here are some common preventable medical mistakes mentioned in the article:

  • Medication errors. These types of mistakes are often the result of carelessness and negligence—not only on the part of a doctor, but also a nurse, anesthesiologist, or even pharmacist. Some of the most common medication errors are when patients are given the wrong medication or the wrong dose of medication. Although it seems unimaginable that instances like these occur, these serious situations sometimes happen when there is confusion surrounding sound-alike medications or when medical professionals are distracted or in a hurry. Another example of a medication error is when an anesthesiologist administers the wrong anesthesia or the wrong dose of anesthesia to a patient. And medication mistakes don’t just take place at hospitals; pharmacy errors occur all too often. Patients and prescriptions can get mixed up and the wrong medication may get into a patient’s hands, wrong doses can get filled, or the wrong instructions and labeling information can get adhered to the right drug—causing adverse effects such as an overdose, allergic reaction, seizures, or even serious injuries like respiratory issues and organ damage. Medication mistakes have the power to seriously injure patients and even claim lives.
     
  • Blood transfusions are often needed during surgeries or for patients who are anemic or are going through chemotherapy. Some common types of blood transfusions include plasma, platelet, and red blood cell transfusions. In fact, transfusion of red blood cells is so common that 14 million units were transfused in 2011 in our nation, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unfortunately, hospital-acquired bacterial infections sometimes occur following red blood cell transfusions. Patients can also get blood-borne infections from transfusions. Even though all donated blood is screened for viruses and bacteria, there is still a slim chance that an infection can occur such as HIV, hepatitis B or C, and others. Any type of infection that occurs following blood transfusions can cause serious injuries and even death.
     
  • Birth injuries. Many different types of birth injuries can occur as a result of medical negligence, including cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, brachial plexus injuries, seizures, paralysis, brain injuries, and blindness. Sadly, many of these birth injuries could have been prevented if medical professionals did their job correctly. One example highlighted in the U.S. News and World Report article is an oxygen overdose for premature babies, as too much oxygen can actually cause harm. When a nurse pumps too much oxygen into a premature baby, it can cause blindness and other life-long effects.
     
  • Infections. Although patients go to hospital to get better, sometimes they leave feeling worse due to a hospital-acquired infections. Infections can occur after surgery at the surgical site, from catheters, or as a result of a central-line. When bacteria gets into the blood or bladder, it can cause an infection that can lead to pain and serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25 people who are patients at hospitals contract an infection, and about 75,000 patients with hospital-acquired infections died while they were at the hospital.

The sad fact is that all of these medical errors are completely preventable, which means patients should never have to suffer and no one should have to lose their loved one as a result of these aforementioned medical mistakes. If something like this has occurred, it could be grounds for medical malpractice.

If you believe you have a medical malpractice case but would like to learn more about your rights or about the law, please order a free copy of our book, Do I Have a Case? A Patient’s Guide to Virginia Medical Malpractice Law. If you have questions, after reading this book or at any other time, please feel free to give our law firm a call for a free consultation.