Any medical mistake can result in serious injury or fatality. Each day, hospitals, doctors and nurses must follow protocols and established standards of care to avoid the mistakes than can harm patients. To this end, hospitals are responsible for implementing policies that help to identify patient needs, prevent infection, and ensure that care be properly administered. Unfortunately, in New York City and nationwide, common medical mistakes continue to haunt patient care. Here are common, but shocking, medical mistakes that have lead to malpractice claims from Block O’Toole & Murphy, a leading firm for medical malpractice cases.
1. Air bubbles
Air bubbles in the blood stream can be fatal. If a patient’s chest isn’t sealed airtight after a chest tube is removed, a bubble can get sucked into the wound and cut off an air supply to the patient’s lungs, heart, kidneys and brain.
2. Operation on the wrong body part
While this seems easily preventable, surgeons have often misread the chart or made improper marks to denote the correct side of the operation. Doctors and staff are responsible for maintaining and double-checking medical records.
3. Deadly infections
If doctors or nurses fail to wash their hands, severe infections can be spread in a hospital environment. Nationwide, hospitals have implemented strict procedures to prevent patient infection.
4. Switching feeding tubes and chest tubes
While these tubes look similar, one is meant for air and one is meant for feeding. Switching tubes can result in serious and fatal injury.
5. Over- or under-anesthesia
An under-dose of anesthesia can leave the brain awake while muscles are frozen. Patients may be able to feel everything, including pain. Over-anesthesia can result in permanent brain or organ damage.
6. Misidentification of patient
Improper record keeping and negligence can result in treatment of the wrong patient. Before every procedure, staff should check your name, date of birth and the barcode on your wristband.
7. Forgetting surgical equipment
If the staff miscounts or fails to account for equipment used inside a patient during an operation, tools left behind can result in severe injury, infection, or death.
8. Lost patients
Nursing home patients or patients being treated for dementia or brain injury can be prone to wander. This could result in falls, hypothermia or other accident. Doctors and hospitals are responsible for keeping track of patients, especially those with dementia or brain injury.
Have you ever experienced a mishap at the doctor's office or hospital?