When defining medical error, it can be simply said that medical errors are mistakes and errors done by health care providers in a clinical setting. Medical error is also known as clinical error and not just limited to physicians.
Medical errors are the biggest causes of deaths and injury in the United States. According to a recent report published by the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 people die in the US in hospitals each year because of medical errors. If we take this statistics into account, more people die from medical error than from motor vehicle accidents, AIDS or breast cancer.
Medical errors usually happen when something was planned as a part of medical care and it does not work out. It can also happen when the wrong plan was used. Medical errors can occur anywhere in the healthcare system: hospital, clinic, outpatient surgery center, doctor’s office, nursing home, patient’s home or nursing home. Most medical errors involve medicines, surgery, diagnosis, equipment and/or lab reports.
Some common examples of medical errors are as follows:
- Giving wrong drug to the patient
- Giving 2 or more drugs to a patient that interact adversely
- Performing surgery in the wrong site
Medical error can happen even in the most routine task. For instance, when a patient in a hospital is on a salt-free diet and he is given a high-salt diet is considered to be a medical error. Government agencies and healthcare providers are now trying to work together to reduce the number of medical error deaths and injuries that are currently taking place.
It is believed that most medical errors occur in the United States because of the complex healthcare system. However, it has also been seen that medical errors can occur when doctors and patients have a problem communicating. A recent study conducted by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that doctors usually do not do enough to help their patients make informed decisions.
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