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What are some of the most common doctor errors?

Most patients are in good hands when they go to the hospital for medical care. The doctors and other medical professionals that treat them adhere to an accepted standard of care and provide them with competent, if not exceptional, care. However, even the best physicians can make mistakes. According to NPR reports, these doctor errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

When a patient first comes in to see the doctor, the doctor may misdiagnose them, or dismiss their symptoms. Failure to diagnose a patient early can lead to complications later on. On the other hand, some physicians do the opposite and overmedicate their patients or offer procedures they don't need. Prescribing the wrong medication or wrong dosage can also cause serious problems.

In some cases, due to negligence or miscommunication, physicians or surgeons may end up treating or performing surgery on the wrong patient. In one case, a woman was wheeled into surgery, even though she told the nurse she had no idea about the procedure. The reason for the mix-up was that she had a similar name to the person who was supposed to undergo the procedure. In some cases, a physician may perform surgery on the right patient, but on the wrong part of the body. This does not happen as often as other issues, but wrong-site surgery has been on the rise recently. Failure to communicate and verify the site of the procedure can cause this issue.

Even if the doctor performs the procedure on the correct patient in the correct spot, many other things can still go wrong. For example, a doctor may remove a breathing tube too early and have difficulty re-inserting it. If a person is left without oxygen too long, they may suffer brain damage. Some surgeons have also completed a procedure, only to find that they left a sponge, scalpel or other foreign object inside the patient's body, causing life-threatening infections. Infection may also spread if a doctor fails to wash their hands properly, even while wearing gloves.

If your doctor made a mistake with regards to your treatment, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Consider talking to an attorney to discuss your legal options.

Source: Cheat Sheet, "Common Mistakes Doctors Make That Often Kill Real People," Lauren Weiler, Jan. 2, 2018

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