As consumers, we don’t easily place our trust in a lot of people. We do research, talk to social media circles, and search online review sites before making many purchase decisions. The same can’t be said, though, for the people we entrust with our health and even our very lives. We put doctors on a pedestal and trust their judgment completely when it comes to relieving pain, curing illness, filling prescriptions, or undergoing surgery.
In most cases, doctors deserve and earn that trust by helping us lead better and healthier lives, but even a highly experienced physician can make a mistake which can lead to a negative outcome for you or someone you love. A 2016 review of statistics compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that medical error was the third leading cause of death in the United States. The doctors might be tired or overworked, or simply lacking the time to thoroughly review each case as much as they should before making a diagnosis or writing a prescription. Here are just a few examples of the most common mistakes your doctor might be making:
- Misdiagnosis: Perhaps the most common doctor error is misdiagnosis. This could be caused by a variety of factors such as reading results incorrectly, misjudging symptoms, or failing to take the patient’s full medical history or physical examination into consideration before making a diagnosis. Time is wasted going down the wrong treatment path while the real condition continues to wreak havoc on the patient’s health.
- Infections: Doctors deal with patients at their most vulnerable points in life. Some might have a compromised immune system due to illness or treatment regimens. Doctors, hospitals, surgeons and medical staff need to ensure that all sanitary precautions are strictly followed, utilize proper hand-washing techniques, maintain facilities to a high degree of cleanliness, properly sanitize equipment after every procedure, and keep a vigilant eye for any signs or symptoms of infection.
- Allergic reactions: A doctor might fail to thoroughly check a patient’s chart to determine potential allergic reactions before recommending a treatment or writing a prescription. If the patient doesn’t realize the potential negatives, the outcome could be anything from a mild rash to a life-threatening anaphylactic shock reaction.
- Overprescribing: As more awareness is placed on the opioid crisis today, we see that many doctors take the path of least resistance by prescribing powerful drugs to help patients control chronic pain. In some cases, this leads to adverse interactions with other drugs, dependence, overdoses, and even death.
- Gross error: You might have heard about cases where the wrong surgery was performed on a patient, a patient woke up during a surgery, or a medical instrument was left behind after a surgical procedure. Although many procedures are in place to avoid these events, carelessness or inattention to detail can lead to life-threatening outcomes.
When a patient or a loved one is in unnecessary pain, receives an incorrect diagnosis, or even dies as the result of medical mistakes, you may be able to seek compensation for that negligence. Seek care to correct the error, document everything, and contact a medical malpractice attorney to who can help determine whether you have a case.