Doctors have a superior knowledge of the human body.
They have spent many years training in medical school and patients therefore trust their expertise and experience. Patients must share personal information and family histories in order to get much-needed medical treatment. And while most doctors do an excellent job treating patients and give the best care possible, medical errors are still fairly common.
Dr. Peter Pronovost, an anaesthesiologist and critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, says that over 250,000 people die each year because of medical error and that it could be counted as the third leading cause of death.
Many of the common errors doctors and nurses make are avoidable. And by being more aware, patients can take back some of the power. Because of their expertise, people give a lot of control over to healthcare professionals. Patients can feel more empowered by being proactive and helping to manage and minimize some risks.
Some common medical errors and tips to avoid them include the following:
Treating the wrong patient
Doctors and hospital staff are usually multitasking, hurried, and on their way to the next patient. Though it would be ideal for doctors to have more than enough time to devote to each patient, for the most part they must manage their time very efficiently and often feel rushed. The same is true for nurses and other hospital staff. However, this sometimes means important things like verifying the identity of the patient before a procedure, is overlooked. Most hospitals are aware of this issue, but it is important to make sure you have a wristband and that all the information on it is correct, including your full name and birthdate.
Surgical objects mistakenly left inside patients
This is a frighteningly common error. Tools mistakenly left inside a patient when a surgeon and surgical staff miscount equipment during a procedure can have serious consequences. If this is something you fear ma sure you specifically mention this to your doctor before surgery and hopefully he or she will be even more careful. Also, after surgery if you have any unexpected pain, swelling, or unusual sensations, contact your doctor immediately.
Doctors operating on the wrong body part
You have probably heard horror stories about this one. Doctors operating on the wrong body part or on the wrong side of the body is an unfortunate reality for many patients. Sometimes the chart can be incorrect, the body part may be marked incorrectly, or the doctor may simply fail to double check. To avoid this you should always make sure the body part to be operated on is correctly marked. Sometimes a staff member will actually have you do it.
When contrasted with the idea of a surgeon operating on the wrong body part, infection may seem rather harmless, but infections can be very serious and can easily become fatal. Being in a hospital setting automatically puts patients at an increased risk of developing an infection. In many cases infection is the result of doctors or nurses not washing their hands. It may seem rude to remind them, but failing to do so could prove disastrous, so take a moment to mention that this is a concern you have.
St. Louis Medical Malpractice Attorneys
You should always do your part to avoid medical error, but the truth is that doctors and medical staff must do everything possible to provide a high standard of care. Failing to do so constitutes medical negligence or malpractice, and this fails to meet the acceptable standard of care. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact a medical malpractice attorney.
The Zevan and Davidson Law Firm have a proven track record of getting results in even the most complex medical malpractice cases. If you have been a victim of medical negligence contact us by calling (314) 588-7200.
photo credit: Thirteen Of Clubs