When you place your health care in the hands of a qualified physician or other professional, you trust that they are going to make decisions that are right for your care and your situation. Unfortunately, medical mistakes are all too common and are the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind cancer and heart disease. This statistic highlights the fact that medical errors are problems that need fixing to protect patients. Knowing the most common medical errors can help patients protect themselves from devastating consequences.
Affecting almost 1.5 million people each year, medication errors can come in a variety of forms. The wrong dose, a bad reaction, bad combination or even the wrong drug can have a negative effect on a patient who trusts the doctor to get it right.
Patients can protect themselves by always asking questions about medications they are given and disclosing any prescription or over-the-counter drugs they are taking before they are prescribed a new medication.
Excessive blood transfusions
Many of medical professionals believe that the more blood cells given to a patient, the more likely they are to contract an infection. Over half of blood transfusions given in the United States were considered inappropriate in one study.
Before any patient undergoes a transfusion, loved ones or the patient should ask why the procedure is necessary. Never be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable with the treatment.
Premature babies and too much oxygen
Finding the right balance of too much oxygen and not enough can be particularly difficult in premature babies. An oxygen overdose on a premature infant can cause blindness, so finding the right balance based on the baby’s weight is imperative. This one simple thing can have lasting ramifications, so parents of pre-term babies should never be afraid to question the amount of oxygen their child is receiving.
Infections picked up in hospitals and clinics
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital infections are contracted by about one in every 25 patients. This error has a simple fix, as you can remind providers to always wash their hands or wear gloves before treating you or a family member.
Preventing unnecessary illness or death
Most of these errors are avoidable if the patient and the physician are on the same page and both equally devoted to quality, safe care. If you have been harmed by a medical error and feel your health care professional was at fault, you may benefit from speaking to an attorney about your case.