New Yorkers who have recently spent time hospitalized may be dismayed to learn that studies have found 200,000 to 400,000 deaths happen annually as a result of preventable errors in hospitals around the country. In addition to the emotional costs to loved ones, medical mistakes are estimated to cost upwards of $15 billion annually in expenses such as patient care and prescription drug services.
The types of mistakes that can happen include a failure of communication between medical staff, errors in diagnosis, organ injuries during surgery, medication errors and infections acquired while in the hospital. However, as high as these numbers appear to be, it appears that many errors may go unreported.
It has been found that these preventable adverse events were reported by patients as much as three times more often than they were noted in patient records. In addition, some doctors are reluctant to report serious errors.
A medication error can be particularly serious and can happen for a number of reasons. There might be a communication problem between a doctor and nurse, or the medication might be mislabeled. There could be a failure to read the doctor’s handwriting properly. A wrong diagnosis could lead to the wrong medication being administered, or a patient’s history of allergies might not be correctly noted. Any of these types of errors could result in a patient relapsing or facing serious health problems. The patient’s course of treatment may take longer and be more expensive. A person or family who has been harmed by this type of a situation may want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to learn about the recourse that may be available.