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How Common Are Medical Mistakes?

You need medical help. You check in to the hospital and trust the doctor will take care of you — but the risk of something going wrong is higher than you probably imagined.

Unfortunately, you have a 1 in 10 chance of getting harmed. That’s according to an eye-opening new report detailed by NBC News. Even more alarming: about 50 percent of mistakes made by medical professionals are preventable.

What are common medical errors?

According to the report, published in The BMJ, most harm relates to medication errors. The report found that about one-half of all medical mistakes can be traced to drugs and other therapies. A number of different types of medication errors can harm patients. A doctor may:

  • Fail to prescribe a medication to treat a condition
  • Prescribe the wrong medication
  • Prescribe medication to a patient who is allergic to the drug
  • Prescribe the wrong dosage of the medication
  • Fail to consider that prescribing multiple medications may be dangerous
  • Fail to give the patient clear directions for using the medication

About one-quarter of all medication mistakes are tied to surgical procedures. Health care infections and diagnosis problems make up about 16 percent of medical mistakes, researchers found.

According to NBC, the United States is experiencing an “unacceptably high” rate of medical errors that should be prevented. Mistakes by health care providers cause unnecessary suffering and even death among patients.

If you are undergoing a medical procedure, it’s important for you and your family to become your own advocate. That means asking doctors and other medical staff questions, even when they’re busy.

Don’t be intimidated by the health care professionals

Here’s a checklist that can help you or a loved one when getting medical help:

  • Check that your doctor washed his or her hands before the procedure
  • Ask your doctor to explain what’s happening in plain terms so you understand
  • Make sure your doctor is using the right protective equipment to prevent infections
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor to pause during a procedure if you need to ask questions

A medical error can have tragic consequences. Patients may lose their lives or face permanent disability. Unfortunately, errors caused by medical professionals are far more common than many people realize.

If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of a medical error, talk to an experienced lawyer. Contact the Cherundolo Law Firm today in Syracuse for a free case consultation.