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Common Types of Medical Errors

No one wants to get sick or have to visit the doctor. Yet, at some point in everyone’s life; an accident, illness or routine check-up will warrant a trip to the hospital or doctor’s office. Whether it’s a medical emergency or simple physical, doctors are trained to examine every patient and not only treat presenting medical problems, but also catch potential underlying medical problems.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of individuals die each year from preventable medical errors. In fact a recent study, published in the The Journal of Patient Safety, estimates that annually 440,000 people in the U.S. die from preventable hospital medical errors. This number is alarming and should serve as a wake-up call to hospital administrators, doctors and other medical professionals to take steps to improve patient safety measures.

According to the Physician Insurers Association of America, the most common causes of medical malpractice lawsuits for “internal medicine clinicians” involve cases where a doctor failed to diagnose a medical condition. When it comes to serious medical conditions like cancer or heart disease; a failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can literally mean the difference between life and death. It’s no wonder then that individuals impacted by these types of medical errors often seek legal remedy.

Additionally, other top reasons cited for filing medical malpractice lawsuits include medical equipment failures or failures to obtain consent, surgical or procedure errors and failures to monitor medical staff. Other medical malpractice lawsuits involve medication errors.

A large percentage of doctor office or hospital visits involve the prescription or administration of prescription or over-the-counter medication. While in recent years hospitals have taken steps to prevent medication errors, mistakes related to the incorrect dosage or type of drug prescribed or administered still occur with far too much frequency.

There are a number of mistakes and scenarios that may result in a patient suffering injuries, harm and even death. In some cases, individuals or family members directly impacted by medical errors may choose to take legal action and file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Clinical Advisor, “Top 5 reasons for internal medicine malpractice suits,” Ann W. Latner, JD, May 20, 2014Consumer Reports, “Study estimates 440,000 die from medical errors,” Monica Laliberte, May 6, 2014