Medical Errors: The Silent Epidemic That Is Killing Millions

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Imagine 400,000 people (the population of Miami) wiped out every year due to preventable medical errors. These numbers quickly put the plague of medical errors made in America every year into perspective. But why?

Here’s a look at the most common causes of medical errors that cause people to seek counsel on behalf of medical malpractice victims and their families.

What are Medical Errors?

According to Scribe America, a medical error defined as:

“a preventable adverse effect of medical care whether or not evident or harmful to the patient. Often viewed as the human error factor in healthcare, this is a highly complex subject related to many factors such as incompetency, lack of education or experience, illegible handwriting, language barriers, inaccurate documentation, gross negligence, and fatigue to name a few.”

Medical errors are of both professional and personal nature and are mainly made by medical practitioners and their patients. In general, when a patient is put under a particular medical procedure, or is a patient themselves, their expectations of how well a procedure will go are as important as the desired outcome of that treatment.

The fact is that nearly all patients should expect a degree of uncertainty during their treatment. Therefore, patients are to a large extent responsible for the quality of care they receive. The science of human nature, much like the science of medicine, is vast and complex.

At the same time, the majority of these errors were medication related and occurred in the hospital setting, harming 1.5 million patients who were fortunate enough to escape death.

But it takes more than simple human error harming a patient to have a case for medical malpractice. You can’t just have a doctor make a mistake and expect it to be considered medical malpractice. There needs to be more than that, like negligence or recklessness. That is when you did not have at least the applicable standard of care.

The Cost of Medical Errors

Let’s look at the cost to the U.S. healthcare system of medical errors. Eighty-seven million dollars annually for the 2.8 million people hospitalized for medical errors (lost time, pain and suffering). $1,000,000,000 for the 2.3 million emergency room visits made due to medical errors.

From a health system perspective, medical errors cost more in U.S. healthcare than heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases combined. $2,200 per patient–the cost of medical errors. It is estimated that a typical doctor makes 25 errors a day and 10 errors every hour.

Why are Medical Errors so Prevalent?

Most medical errors are made in the ER of the hospital, and the ER doctors (the ones that see more of the patients) are less likely to apologize for mistakes because they expect to make a lot more mistakes. They usually blame the hospital where the mistake occurred. If doctors are stressed, fearful, or overworked, errors are more likely to happen, so they are more likely to minimize them.

If the blame doesn’t lie with them (unlike the ER patients), mistakes will not be corrected. The above numbers were compiled by ER doctors, but not by cardiologists. The same numbers apply in cardiology to the same degree. Medical errors are not just occurring more often today; they are causing more harm than ever before.

How to Avoid Medical Errors

Merely attempting to run away from the problem is not the solution. Quite the contrary. Preventing medical errors is, without a doubt, the only way to eliminate the death toll caused by these needless accidents. To prevent medical errors, medical professionals must first examine their own responsibility.

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. It is no secret that, to do their job correctly, doctors must know everything about their patient, and, more importantly, everything about the patient’s previous medical history.

There are also many other elements of medical care that should not be left up to chance. Such elements include the basics of good nursing care, adequate medical equipment, adequate staffing, and so on.

The standard is the watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that a reasonable healthcare provider should use in the situation. This varies depending on what type of healthcare provider you are and what treatment or service you are providing. Hopefully, things are improving, but careless medical errors still happen.

Conclusion

The numbers considered here are absolutely staggering. But rather than just shrugging their shoulders in frustration, members of the medical community must consider ways they can make a positive change. It’s time for medical professionals to stop blindly following scripts dictated by healthcare companies. It’s time for them to make some changes before it’s too late.

When you take a stand to demand payment for the costs you face, not only are you doing something good for yourself, but you’re also helping to make the system fairer for everyone.

With the right professional on your side, you don’t need to go it alone. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can help you understand how complicated these cases can be. If you are the victim of a medical error, find a personal injury attorney who will be a forceful advocate for medical malpractice victims and their families.

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