4,000 Medical Errors Happen Each Year, Study Shows

It has been a fact that events once regarded as rare or infrequent have been occurring more often than ever. We’re talking about doctors making thousands of errors while taking care of their patients, of course.

According to several news agencies, incidents that should never happen in medicine like mistakenly operating on the wrong patient or forgetting a foreign object like a surgical instrument or sponge inside of the patient’s body before he or she is sewed up have been happening more often. These mistakes happen about 4,000 times a year in the country, reports indicate.

This is an alarming data especially because it shows that in the last 9,744 legal cases involving doctors leaving objects inside of a patient 32.9 percent of victims sustained permanent injury as a result while 59.2 percent experienced temporary injuries. About 6 percent of the cases led to the death of the patients.

Most patients, however, do not file claims of the incidents after the errors, which could indicate that the actual number of medical errors is much higher than what data shows. According to the study carried out by a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, one in three or four sponges left inside of patients is never discovered.

Although the number of error cases involving doctor mistakes reported by hospitals have been decreasing in the past, some believe that certain cases involving settlements are just not being reported to the practitioner database.

Most of the errors committed by physicians are preventable and due to this reality, certain safety advocates and federal agents have been looking into the reported cases and possibility of a much higher number of unreported cases to look for ways to prevent these incidents to ensure patients are safe in the future.

According to the study, most hospitals with the least amount of cases of medical errors have implemented the use of checklists in order to obtain the best result when it comes to communication before doctors, assistants and nurses. According to the study, most mistakes occur due to to poor communication and substandard leadership. Hospitals are being asked to review their policies and look into the use of strategies used in more complex procedures adopted by the aviation industry, for an example, to develop a better system that will help to make surgeries safer to all patients.

Patients subject to medical errors suffer greatly and lawmakers along healthcare professionals should address this issue by developing new efforts to reduce the risks.

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