Ironic and shocking as it may seem, healthcare providers are often responsible for serious medical errors that result in patient harm or even death. This formed headlines in recent news. According to a new report released recently by the Institute of Medicine, most Americans will fall victim to at least one diagnostic error in their lifetime and when this happens it can often be fatal. The report which advises the government and policymakers stressed the need for improving diagnoses in the United States and thereby reducing the number of errors. Typically, delayed or wrong diagnoses lead to fatal medical errors. Sometimes, complacency on the part of the healthcare provider or the failure to consider all details of the patient’s condition may cause medical mistakes. Professional negligence by a healthcare provider wherein the treatment provided to the patient caused harm, injury or death to the patient, or was substandard amounts to medical malpractice. Healthcare providers must carefully evaluate the information provided by the various tests they may order. If they don’t do so, abnormal test results may be overlooked or interpreted incorrectly and result in real harm for the patients.
Most medical malpractice cases involve a medical error – in diagnosis, medication dosage, treatment provided, healthcare management or aftercare. Victims of medical malpractice can recover compensation from the wrongdoers with the support of a medical malpractice attorney. Reviewing the medical records of the victim is the most important step in this process, and many attorneys complete this with efficient assistance from a partnering medical review company. Any further steps can be taken only after ensuring that there is indeed a case for medical malpractice.
- The abovementioned report highlighted the fact that diagnostic errors cause about 10% of patient deaths.
- 6 to 17% of adverse medical events caused to patients during a hospital stay also stemmed from diagnostic errors.
- Lack of communication between doctors with their colleagues, patients and family members is a major reason for many diagnostic errors.
The sad fact is that most of the doctors are not aware of the errors they make. The report makes the following recommendations.
- In the current scenario, greater communication must be encouraged between doctors, patients and their caregivers.
- In addition, the committee advised more training for healthcare providers and increased spending on research to ensure more accuracy of diagnoses.