Medical errors more common than you think explains injury attorney

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

A medical error is a preventable adverse effect of medical care, whether or not it is evident or harmful to the patient. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins medicine said that medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Hard to imagine, we know.  Highlighted by the report was a failure to accurately track vital statistics, which hindered research on the subject and more accurate reporting. Researchers called for more detailed coding on death certificates. The hope is to more accurately capture if a medical error is the cause.

This lack of detailed accounting on both injuries and fatalities as a result of medical error and medical mistakes, has led to this very real problem not getting the focus it deserves. Patient safety needs to be a top priority of our healthcare system and legislatures. No one expects to seek medical attention and experience further harm as a result. A sad fact is that it can and does happen. Read on to learn about many types of medical errors that can occur.

Common medical errors

  • Misdiagnosis – An error in diagnosis or delayed diagnosis is the most common type of medical error. Often, a speedy and accurate diagnosis is

    Physicians performing surgery

    essential in starting a proper course of treatment. A wrong diagnosis can cause a dangerous and sometimes fatal delay in treatment.

  • Surgical errors – We’ve all heard horror stories of wrong site surgeries, or even of surgeons operating on the wrong patient. There are many surgical errors that are a result of medical negligence. An example of this is leaving objects, such as surgical sponges or even medical instruments inside a patient’s body after surgery. Puncturing an organ or causing an infection due to a surgical error are other problems that can lead to serious injury, as is failing to properly monitor vital signs. Surgical errors can lead to a devastating outcome for a patient.
  • Anesthesia errors – One of the most serious medical malpractice injuries can come from a negligent anesthesia error. This can sometimes result in brain damage, coma or death before action can be taken. More specifically, anesthesia errors can result in stroke, heart attack, asphyxia, brain injury, birth defects and many more injuries. Giving the wrong dosage of anesthesia, failing to monitor the patient properly, failing to properly administer oxygen or failing to recognize complications are just a few of the anesthesia errors that occur.
  • Medication errors – Medication and other prescription errors can occur at many different stages in the medication prescribing and dispensing process. For instance, an error could be made in ordering or prescribing or in entering the information into a computer. Medication mistakes can also happen when the drug is dispensed or administered or in monitoring the patient. According to the FDA, they receive more than 100,000 reports in the U.S. each year associated with a suspected medication error. Medication errors could result in a variety of injuries from birth defects to adverse reaction, life threatening conditions, disability and even fatality.
  • Errors due to lack of communication – Medical errors and injury may result from the lack of proper communication and coordination between healthcare providers. It can also be a result of lack of communication between a doctor and a patient. Good communication is essential between all parties involved in medical treatment. This is a very preventable medical error that can lead to serious harm.
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient – Failure to monitor could lead to missed medical warning signs. This may result in valuable time lost in properly treating a patient. It may even result in irreversible injury. Monitoring is essential in medical care.
  • Lab errors – Failure to properly read test results can lead to a wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment. This can lead to a dangerous delay in properly treating a medical condition. Errors in testing, reading tests and in communicating results can all cause harm.
  • Medical equipment malfunction – Medical equipment that is not kept in good working order can cause serious harm or possibly death. An example of this might include a case of a malfunctioning defibrillator.
  • Blood transfusions errors – Blood transfusions are high-risk procedures. Errors can occur during the transfusion process. They can occur when identifying a patient, in blood typing, in failing to test for contamination in blood or in failing to recognize a blood transfusion reaction.
  • Birth injuries as a result of medical errors – Every year, tens of thousands of birth injuries occur in the U.S. Birth injuries can include traumatic brain injury or other brain injuries and oxygen deprivation among other errors. A failure to anticipate complications or to diagnose an ailment could be life threatening. Birth injuries that can be caused by medical errors include Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy or HIE. Cerebral Palsy, and Erb’s Palsy/Shoulder Dystocia are other examples of birth injuries. Medical errors resulting in birth injuries can include a failure to detect fetal distress or a delayed cesarean section. They can also include a delay in diagnosis or the improper use of birthing tools among other errors. Birth errors can have a lifelong impact on children and families.

How can patients better protect themselves from certain medical errors?

The sad truth is that many medical errors are often preventable. Medical mistakes are frequently the result of carelessness on the part of a doctor or another medical professional or healthcare provider. Here are five ways you can protect yourself. 

  1. Be assertive and ask questions – Don’t be afraid to ask. You will want to know the risks and disadvantages of various procedures, side effects of medication and other treatments, etc..
  2. Bring along an advocate – It sometimes gets confusing, and having a family member or friend with you at an appointment can help.
  3. Watch for signs of medical staff fatigue in an understaffed health care facility.
  4. Make sure all medical providers know all of the medication you are taking. Alert them to medication allergies and reactions as well.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

Medical Malpractice

When errors are made in the medical profession, they can result in serious and sometimes fatal consequences. For medical malpractice to be considered in a case, the following must have occurred: harm was suffered by a patient as the result of a medical professional failing to provide a standard of care that other medical professionals would have provided under the same circumstances. If you believe you have been injured by a medical error, it’s important to act quickly to protect your legal rights. Speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate the circumstances of your case. A knowledgeable medical injury lawyer can tell you if you have a medical malpractice case.

Click to read more from Distasio Kowalski medical injury lawyers about medical malpractice, medical misdiagnosis, or birth injuries.

Read more blogs on the topic of medical errors

Is cerebral palsy caused by medical errors

Understanding the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect

 

 

 

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The road to ensure driverless vehicles are safe

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

37, 461 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roads in 2016. Because most crashes are caused by human error, many see driverless vehicles as a solution to reduce crashes. Automakers and others are rushing to market with vehicles that have autonomous driving capability. Are they doing enough to ensure driverless vehicles are safe? Distasio Kowalski is an injury law firm that focuses on protecting the victims of car accidents and truck crashes. As such, we are hopeful that when properly tested and regulated, driverless vehicles will help to reduce injuries and fatalities as the result of auto accidents. The key is adequate testing and regulation to ensure safety.

Harvard Business Review published a research and computer model conducted by Accenture and the Stevens Institute of Technology. The study indicated that “as many as 23 million fully autonomous vehicles will be traveling U.S. highways by 2035.” Both Tesla and GM introduced new vehicles with self-drive capabilities recently. Tesla rolled out a fully electric semi truck with autopilot drive capabilities. The semi can apparently go 500 miles between charges while hauling 80,000 pounds. It’s equipped with automated braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings. General Motors also just unveiled its new driverless cars. It seems like a race to see which automakers can bring driverless vehicles to the market first. In addition to automakers, Google, Apple and Uber are testing driverless technology as well.

Google’s driverless vehicle safety report

Google recently submitted the first-ever safety report to regulators regarding Waymo, its self-driving car company. The company has done extensive research and testing and hopes to better educate the public regarding driverless vehicle technology. Statistics quoted to support the introduction of this technology, include: 94% of crashes in the U.S. involve human error and $594 billion in harm from loss of life and injury each year. Waymo’s self-driving system is designed to operate without any human driver. When the hardware and software is implemented, it will perform all driving function.

The report includes an overview of the pre-built maps, sensors and software that surround this technology. The safety process began with identifying potential hazardous scenarios and what could be done to reduce risk.

Google addressed five areas of safety for driverless vehicles:

  1. Behavior Safety – how are driving decision made.
  2. Functional Safety – vehicles must operate safely at all times, even if there is a system fault or failure.
  3. Crash Safety – vehicles must protect the passengers inside in the event of a car crash. These vehicles must meet safety standards.
  4. Operational Safety – consumers must have a safe experience inside a driverless vehicle.
  5. Non-Collision Safety – Physical safety for the range of people who may interact with the vehicle.

Are driverless vehicles safe?

While Google’s report was an overview of everything they are doing to ensure safety, the question remains, are these autonomous vehicles safe? AAA released a study on public perception of driverless vehicles earlier this year. AAA found that although majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technology in their next vehicle, they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Most noteworthy, three quarters of U.S. drivers reported feeling afraid to drive in a self driving car and only 10 percent said they’d feel safer sharing the road with driverless cars. This public feeling about driverless vehicle technology and safety will be a major hurdle to overcome in the widespread introduction of these cars and trucks.

Personal injury safety concerns of driverless vehicles

  • First of all, an education of the driver would be required. Although the vehicle is driving itself once the computer takes over, a driver must still be educated in safe operation.
  • Because driverless vehicles would be coming from many different companies, they must somehow be connected to work together and share the road together for optimum safety. This will not be an easy task.
  • A self-driving vehicle does not guarantee safety. In the event of a car accident, who would be liable? This needs to be addressed.
  • How will self driving cars and trucks operate in various weather conditions? Would snow and rain affect the sensors and impact vehicle safety.
  • Furthermore, how will road hazards impact driving? If a roadblock or construction zone goes up suddenly. If dangers exist on a road such as potholes, debris or other dangers.
  • The danger of other outside influences. What happens if there is a power outage and a stop light is not working properly?
  • The threat of the vehicle computer being hacked. This can pose a real danger to those inside the vehicle and also around it.

Autonomous vehicles are on the way to a road near you and the car accident lawyers at Distasio Kowalski hope that safety is a top priority as these vehicles are introduced. In conclusion, public safety must be a primary focus of federal legislators as they introduce laws regarding driverless cars and driverless trucks.

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