Doctors are human, and therefore they are capable of making mistakes. However, medical mistakes can prove to be costly to patients, and can lead to a worsened condition. Patients harmed by a doctor’s error may want to learn more about two major types of medical mistakes and why they occur.
Types of medical errors
One major category of medical errors is known as errors of omission. These are errors that take place because appropriate action was not taken. For example, the failure to stabilize a gurney can cause a patient to fall and suffer injuries.
A second major category of medical errors is known as errors of commission. These are errors that take place because the wrong action was taken. For example, the improper labeling of a laboratory specimen could lead to the specimen failing to be ascribed to the correct patient.
There are a variety of reasons these types of medical errors occur. For example, a medical error can occur if:
- Correct handwashing is not performed, leading to infection
- Surgery is performed on the wrong body part
- Medication is improperly labeled, including medications in a syringe; or
- Patients are not monitored after taking certain medications, such as anticoagulants or chemotherapy
Most medical errors have more than one factor that contributed to the mistake. Human error is a problem, and it can lead to a medical mistake.
Medical errors can be costly
It is up to doctors to take appropriate actions to prevent medical errors. Preventable medical errors lead to increases in healthcare costs. A patient can incur additional medical expenses related to the medical mistake, such as expenses related to identifying the error and expenses relating to the treatment made necessary to remedy the error. Those who suffer damages due to medical malpractice may be able to take legal action against the physician responsible for the harm suffered.