Anytime a human does work, there is a chance he or she will make a mistake. Human error is unavoidable. However, when we put our trust, money and – most importantly – lives in the hands of medical experts, we expect them to operate without mistakes.
Although most people know that medical malpractice is an unfortunate reality in New York City, we like to imagine that it is a rare occurrence, and not a threat with which we should be concerned. However, new studies show that may not be the case.
According to a report in CBS News, hospital errors may be 10 percent higher than previously estimated. In other words, one out of three individuals admitted to the hospital may be injured or killed by the negligence of a nurse, doctor or surgeon.
In a study of nearly 800 patients, a team of doctors detected more than 350 “adverse events” caused by human error. Moreover, that figure might be even higher than the study suggests. The research doctors reviewed the medical records completed by the health care staff. However, because the researchers were not able to corroborate their findings with real time observations, they were not able to verify that the information in the medical reports was complete.
In general, the study showed that there were three main types of medical errors: prescription errors, surgical errors and hospital-acquired infections.
The researchers stressed that although patients may not be able to stop mistakes from happening, there are often warning signs that suggest mistakes could happen. One of the researchers stated that “many of the most severe events were preceded by more minor events.” To help protect their safety, patients should always say something when anything goes wrong, even if it seems minor or inconsequential.
Source: CBS News, “Hospital errors rampant, study says: What can patients do?” David W. Freeman, 7 April 2011