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What Are the Most Common Medical Errors?

No patient ever expects a doctor to make a mistake. Medical professionals undergo many years of education and training to reach the high standards of patient care within the medical industry. Unfortunately, doctors do not always live up to this expectation. There are many preventable acts of negligence that result in serious patient harm – including death. This is known as medical malpractice, and it can give an injured patient grounds to file a civil lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation from the at-fault doctor or hospital.

Diagnostic Errors

Making the correct diagnosis is one of the most important parts of patient care. Without an accurate and timely diagnosis, a patient is at risk of receiving the incorrect treatment. Doctors must carefully listen to a patient’s complaints, conduct an appropriate exam, recommend the correct tests, correctly interpret the test results and narrow down the diagnosis options based on the information available. A mistake or act of negligence at any point during the diagnostic process can result in a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose.

In some cases, a misdiagnosis can have lasting effects on a child’s development if a birth injury is incorrectly diagnosed or missed entirely. For example, a doctor may fail to diagnose Erb’s palsy or mistake the symptoms of cerebral palsy for a different affliction.

Medication Mistakes

Millions of people rely on medications to manage their symptoms or combat illnesses. Many take multiple medications at a time. A medication mistake at any level – from the doctor who prescribed the drug to the pharmacy that dispensed the medication to the nurse or other professional who administers it – can threaten a patient’s life. If a health care provider does not pay proper attention, a patient may suffer injury resulting from the wrong medication or dosage being prescribed, a drug overdose or underdose, adverse drug interactions, and fatal allergic reactions.

Lack of Proper Patient Care

A health-care practitioner must act in accordance with the medical standard of care at all stages of the treatment process. Sadly, doctors and medical professionals do not meet this standard all of the time. The failure to properly care for a patient can produce countless situations that create a risk of injury, including:

  • Emergency room errors
  • Infections or bedsores
  • Premature hospital discharge
  • Failure to consider the patient’s medical history
  • Failure to prevent an allergic reaction 
  • Poor patient monitoring
  • Failure to treat
  • Birth injuries during pregnancy, labor or delivery
  • Patient harassment or discrimination

Any of these issues can cause significant patient harm, including death. It is the provider’s duty to properly communicate with his or her coworkers and patients, follow hospital protocols, and practice medicine with the skill and attention required to avoid preventable harm to a patient.

Surgical Errors

While every surgery comes with inherent risks, no procedure should endanger a patient’s life due to preventable medical errors made by the surgeon, surgical team or anesthesiologist. If a health care provider falls short of the duty of care before, during or after surgery, any of the following surgical errors could occur:

  • Lack of informed consent
  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • Wrong patient or procedure
  • Wrong operation site or body part
  • Unnecessary surgeries
  • Nicked arteries
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Foreign object left behind in the body cavity
  • Poor post-operative care

There is no such thing as a minor surgical error. Anything that goes wrong during surgery can be fatal or life-changing for a patient. If a surgical error reasonably could have been prevented, an injured patient can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in pursuit of justice and financial compensation in Philadelphia.

Medical Product and Device Defects

Some patient injuries are caused not by acts of medical malpractice by a doctor, but by medical products, devices or equipment that contain defects. Manufacturing, design and marketing defects in the medical industry are dangerous and may entitle an injured patient to file a Philadelphia product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor.

If you or a loved one has been injured by any of these common medical errors in Pennsylvania, contact an attorney at Youman & Caputo for a free initial case evaluation.