Causes of Medical Mistakes

Causes of Medical Mistakes

Patients trust their doctors and other medical professionals and believe that they will exercise good decision-making when they provide treatment. Unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals sometimes make mistakes that can seriously impact their patients. Medical malpractice is much more common than you might think. According to research from Johns Hopkins, an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. die each year as a result of medical negligence. Medical errors can also cause serious injuries and lifelong disabilities to the patients who are affected by them. Here are some of the common reasons why medical malpractice occurs from the attorneys at Raynes & Lawn.

Causes of Preventable Medical Errors

A medical error occurs when a doctor inadvertently uses the wrong treatment or uses a treatment that a reasonably competent practitioner would not have chosen under the same circumstances. There are multiple reasons why a doctor might make a preventable medical error. Some of the common reasons are detailed below.


Doctors and nurses frequently work long shifts with little rest. When they become fatigued, it makes it more difficult to think and concentrate. This can cause doctors and nurses to make critical errors when they treat patients.

Lack of Familiarity With Electronic Records Systems

Most hospitals and medical offices have transitioned to electronic records systems. When users make errors when inputting or checking the information in the system, patients can be harmed as a result. A practitioner who is unfamiliar with a system might input information incorrectly or fail to double-check the information he or she has submitted. A practitioner might also fail to input important information about a patient into the medical system, resulting in critical patient care mistakes.

Lack of Experience

While everyone has to begin somewhere, new doctors need to be closely supervised. A new doctor might fail to order important diagnostic tests or to identify the symptoms a patient is experiencing when it is outside of his or her experience. These types of mistakes can result in preventable injuries that could have been avoided. New doctors should ask for advice from others or refer patients to specialists when they are unsure.

Failing to Follow Accepted Protocols

Some medical malpractice cases result when a doctor fails to follow the accepted protocols and standards when providing care. These standards have been established to help to prevent medical mistakes. When they are not followed, patients can be injured and suffer harm as a result.

Common Types of Malpractice

Some of the common types of malpractice are preventable, and you can take steps to prevent medical errors from occurring.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are the leading type of medical malpractice based on the percentage of total claims filed each year. Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses can cause permanent injuries or death. A misdiagnosis can result in poor treatment of the underlying condition and result in the condition worsening before it is correctly identified. To prevent this type of error, you should be informed about your symptoms and ask plenty of questions. Make sure the doctor understands the symptoms you are experiencing, and do not be afraid to seek a second opinion.

Treating the Wrong Patient

Some instances of medical malpractice in hospitals occur when a doctor or nurse provides treatment or medication to the wrong patient. While hospitals have systems in place to prevent this type of mistake from occurring, it still happens. If you are in the hospital, make sure the treating medical professionals check your identifying information on your wristband before they provide treatment. Do not be afraid to speak up if someone fails to check who you are.

Air Bubbles

If you have a chest tube inserted, the hole must be properly sealed to ensure that air bubbles cannot enter your bloodstream. Air bubbles can cut off the blood supply to your brain, kidneys, lungs, and heart. Before your chest tube is removed, ask the nurse how your body should be positioned to prevent air bubbles from entering your system and ask the nurse to check to make sure that the seal is airtight.

Prescription Errors

Prescription errors can happen both inside and outside of the hospital. If a doctor fails to check your medical records, you could be prescribed a medication that you are allergic to or that can have a dangerous interaction with another medication you are taking. Make sure to bring a complete list of your medications with you to your doctor’s office or the hospital, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements that you take. Tell the doctors and nurses about any allergic reactions you have had, and double-check to make sure that they have noted them. When you pick up a prescription from your local pharmacy, double-check the label and dose to make sure it is the right medication and in the correct dosage.

Patient Falls

Patient falls can happen in the hospital for several reasons. For example, a patient might fall when he or she tries to walk without help, has mobility issues, or has a reaction to the drugs he or she has been administered. Patient falls can also happen when the staff-to-patient ratios are too high or when bed rails are not properly raised. People who have mobility issues and the elderly should request assistance once they enter the hospital and should call for a nurse before trying to get out of bed.

Lack of Coordination

If multiple professionals are involved in your treatment, they must coordinate your care with each other. Problems can arise when the various professionals fail to communicate with each other. Make sure that all of your doctors and other health care professionals know the types of treatment you have received from each one of them, and ask to make sure that they are communicating with each other.

Talk to a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you believe that your injuries happened because of medical malpractice, you should speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Raynes & Lawn as soon as possible. Call us today at 1-800-535-1797 for a free case evaluation.

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