Millions of Americans put their trust in the U.S. healthcare system and entrust physicians and surgeons with their lives. However, New Mexico residents may be surprised to find out how many preventable mistakes these medical experts make each year. From negligent providers to surgical items being left inside of patients, these medical errors can cause severe pain and even death. The Journal of Patient Safety reports that medical errors claim as many as 425,000 lives each year, making them the third leading cause of death in the United States. Millions more people are injured because of doctor mistakes. The numbers are hard to analyze, however, as many medical malpractice cases go unreported.
Common types of medical errors
Medical mistakes can occur when physicians operate without a license, work too many hours, or use faulty surgical methods, techniques and equipment. Here are a few of the most common types of medical errors, as reported by CNN News.
- Misdiagnosis or misevaluation of a patient’s symptoms could cause a condition to become worse or result in the patient receiving the wrong treatment.
- Operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient.
- Hospital acquired infections can occur when medical professionals do not wash their hands or use proper aseptic technique.
- Medication errors happen when a patient is given the wrong prescription or the wrong dose of medication.
- Leaving surgical instruments, such as sponges or forceps, behind in a patient’s surgical site.
- Undertrained healthcare workers who do not use proper procedure and end up causing severe patient trauma or death.
One such patient became a victim of a nurse’s negligent behavior when she inappropriately removed the boy’s central line chest tube and used gauze to cover the open hole in his chest, according to CNN News. As air entered into the hole, air bubbles formed in his blood, cutting off the blood supply to all of his major organs, including his lungs and heart. Although he was excited to leave the hospital that day, he was killed because of the tragic mistake. Proper procedure requires nurses to lay patients flat when taking out chest tubes and instructs them to use an airtight seal to ensure no air enters the body.
What can be done?
Even the best New Mexico medical experts can make mistakes, and so patients must be cautious when going in for a medical procedure or treatment. Patients should always take a friend or loved one in with them if possible and ask questions to ensure they are getting the right medication, dosage, surgical procedure and treatment. Medical negligence can also be avoided if patients research the physician’s credentials before being seen.
How an attorney can help
Victims of medical malpractice may have to adjust to life-changing injuries, such as lost limbs, paralysis or even brain damage. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a medical mistake, an attorney can help you get compensation for your medical expenses, pain, reduced quality of life and emotional trauma you’ve experienced as a result of the error.