Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Different Types of Medical Errors

By Les Freeman

Medical errors are the sources of most medical malpractice suits and they occur for many reasons. Examples are medication error involving administration of incorrect medication, incorrect dosage of correct medication, incorrect diagnosis by the doctor, or pharmaceutical error. These errors should not happen though they do occur occasionally.

Misdiagnosis is another type of medical error. Misdiagnosis is a problem because the wrong disease or medical problem is being treated. Therapy for that incorrect diagnosis is not helpful to the patient, and may actually cause more harm than good. Also, if a doctor's initial diagnosis is incorrect, he or she may not have an important test done on a patient. The doctor may miss important diagnostic clues because of this lack of testing. Another type of misdiagnosis can occur if a doctor misinterprets the information given by a medical test. The wrong treatment may be given if the doctor misses some information from a medical test. Also, a doctor may fail to treat a patient with an abnormal test result. The doctor must have a correct diagnosis to treat the patient. He or she must be able to take the information provided to them by the patient and treat the patient appropriately.

Another type of medical error that can result in a medical malpractice suit is a surgical error. There are several things that can cause a case of medical errors related to surgery. First, the instruments and operating room may not be completely sterile. This might cause a patient to become infected or cause other complications. Second, if the doctor is not careful, an organ can be punctured while surgery is performed. Then, suddenly, the doctor has two operations to perform at the same time. Third, a doctor may perform surgery in the wrong place, on the wrong body part. Wrong side surgery is when a doctor operates on the wrong side of a patient's body. Doctors can operate on the wrong organ, also. Fourth, the amount of time taken in surgery is an important factor to consider. If surgery is either delayed or prolonged, complications can occur that can harm the patient. Surgeons must be precise in their work. They must also be extremely careful to do the proper operation in an acceptable amount of time. Accidents and mistakes are not allowed on the surgical table.

Even cosmetic surgeries are not immune to medical errors. Cosmetic procedures such as ear surgery, face lift, nasal surgery, breast augmentation, and liposuction can exhibit the same type of medical errors occurring in ordinary surgeries.

Birth injuries are also a cause for medical errors. Some of the causes of birth injuries include breech deliveries, delayed Caesarean sections, medical neglect and placenta abruptions. Birth injuries are any injuries that occur just before birth, during birth, or right after birth. These injuries can bring on such complications as mental retardation, autism, epilepsy, Erbs palsy, and cerebral palsy.

Anaesthesia errors are also a cause for medical errors and medical malpractice suits. Human error is the most frequent reason for anaesthesia errors in the operating room. Anaesthesiologists can be negligent or show a lack of vigilance while administering anaesthesia. Some of the results of incorrectly administered anaesthesia are paralysis, strokes, heart problems, seizures and death.

Medical errors happen even in the dentist's office. The wrong dental tool can be used, or used incorrectly. The dentist may miss a dental problem that causes health issues for the patient. Poor dental materials improperly applied can cause health problems. And anaesthesia used incorrectly in the dentist's office can even cause death.

Further, emergency rooms are hectic which involve high level of stress, which increases the likelihood of medical errors occurring. Medical and prescription errors are one of the problems that can occur in the emergency room. Bacterial infections can start in an emergency room, though this is very uncommon. Diagnosis errors can occur due to high levels of stress and a large number of patients that need to be treated. And sometimes patients are dumped at the emergency room as a result of negligence. In rare occasions, a dumped patient may not be treated equally or may be neglected by the medical staff due to lack of ability to pay for medical services. These are a few of the medical errors that can happen in an emergency room.

In summary, most medical errors can be traced to human error. No one goes into the hospital expecting an incompetent doctor or nurse to treat him or her. Even the best doctors and nurses make mistakes, though rarely. Unfortunately, these mistakes can cause serious damage to patients resulting in medical malpractice insurance to skyrocket. A Federal Commission of Malpractice found in January 2005, that the key to limiting medical malpractice is for each state to discipline those doctors who repeatedly exhibited behaviours deemed to be incompetent. Part of their medical malpractice problem could be dealt with by having state medical boards act to properly police substandard practice by doctors. On the other hand, doctors are afraid of losing their practices due to possible lawsuits and high medical insurance prices. Congress is looking at ways to improve the reporting and evaluation of medical errors. States are deciding whether or not to have a monetary cap on jury rewards to injured patients. Most of the legislation is based on balancing the need for being able to sue for avoidable error without having medical malpractice insurance becoming cost prohibitive.

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