AARP publishes list of Health Care Mistakes

According to AARP, 250,000 deaths a year were caused by health care mistakes in America.  That would make health care mistakes the third leading cause of death in the United States.  AARP published a list of the “Dirty Dozen,” 12 Sources Of Harm That Plague the American Health System.  The first, and most common health care mistake, is a wrong diagnosis or misdiagnosis.  Doctors don’t just miss weird, rare conditions.  They often fail to catch common problems like pneumonia, congestive heart failure and cancer.  Autopsy and medical record reviews show that diagnostic errors contribute to about 10% of patient deaths and up to 17% of all episodes of preventable harm in hospitals.  Health care mistakes can spring from poor collaborations or misunderstandings among clinicians, patients, and families.  They can also arise from stereotype and gender bias and narrow focus on particular symptoms and being swayed by independent events.  For example, assuming that five patients just came in with the flu, the sixth probably has it too.  What’s even worse, the medical system does not make on target diagnosis a priority.  Doctors often don’t even find out later they were proved wrong.

What can you do to help yourself avoid wrong diagnosis or negligent diagnosis?  Ask your doctor how sure he is of the condition you have been diagnosed with.  What did he rule out and why?  Feel free to get a second opinion.

A second area of concern in the AARP article about health care mistakes was sloppy practices.  The issue here is whether the treatment plan is right for the diagnosis.  According to AARP, a study evaluating twelve U.S. cities found that 45% of patients did not receive recommended care for their conditions.  There are published guidelines for nearly every condition.  Physicians are required to keep up to date to make sure they know the most current guidelines.  If your physician is unable to discuss with you what guidelines they are following, it is time to get a second opinion.

Another area that cane lead to a dangerous health care mistake is adverse drug events.  They are still among the most common types of preventable health care mistakes.  There are multiple steps in which errors can sneak in such as ordering the correct drug in the right amount, passing that information on accurately to the dispenser, filling the order correctly after double-checking for problems like allergies, and giving the right dose at the right time to the right patient.  Missteps contribute to 700,000 emergency room visits and 120,000 hospitalizations each year.  Other sources of health care mistakes include clinician burnout, poor communication and poor follow-up in outpatient care facilities.   If you have any questions regarding any health care mistake, please feel free to call our medical malpractice lawyers and experienced medical negligence attorneys anytime for a free consultation.

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