What Constitutes a Medical Error?

Selective focus photo of a medical professional sitting on the floor of a hospital, looking upset and/or tired, while people walk around.

Medical errors can be any actions or decisions made by healthcare professionals that result in patient harm. Whether it's a misdiagnosis, prescription error, or communication breakdown, medical errors can have severe consequences for patients and their families. For those who have experienced a medical error, whether personally or through a loved one, the impact can be devastating.

Types of Medical Errors

Errors of Omission

Errors of omission occur when something that should have been done for the patient was not done. This could include failing to diagnose a condition, delay in treatment, or forgetting to order or give medications. These errors can occur due to lack of experience, inadequate training, or communication breakdowns between healthcare providers. Since these errors involve something not being done, they can be difficult to detect, and patients may not even be aware that they have been harmed.

Errors of Commission

Errors of commission occur when something is done incorrectly or in a harmful manner. For example, a surgeon might perform surgery on the wrong part of the body or administer the wrong medication. Errors of commission can occur due to negligence, lack of attention to detail, or failure to follow established protocols. These types of errors are more apparent and are typically easier to identify than errors of omission.

Recognizing a Medical Error

Patients who have experienced a medical error may not be aware that they have been harmed, and symptoms may not appear immediately. However, there are certain signs that can indicate a medical error has occurred. These include:

  • New or worsening symptoms
  • Longer recovery times than expected
  • Unexplained pain or discomfort
  • Abnormal test results
  • Admission to the hospital or emergency room

What to Do if You Suspect a Medical Error

If you suspect that a medical error has occurred, the first thing you should do is speak with your healthcare provider. Ask them to explain what happened and how they plan to address the issue. If you are not satisfied with their response or you feel that they are not taking your concerns seriously, you may need to seek outside help. This could involve consulting with another healthcare professional or seeking legal assistance.

Related Reading

Your Guide to Medical Malpractice

What is Discriminatory Care?

Put Decades of Experience in Your Corner

Medical errors can have catastrophic consequences for patients and their families, and it is important to understand what constitutes a medical error.

At Curtis & Co., we dedicate a significant portion of our practice to medical malpractice law. If you were hurt or if your loved one died as a result of a suspected medical error, reach out to our firm right away to learn how we can help. We offer free initial consultations and do not collect any attorney fees or litigation-related expenses unless we recover a settlement or verdict for you.

For a free consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys, call (505) 871-3740 or reach us online using our secure contact form.

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