Medical errors are preventable mistakes in health care. Medical errors can occur in a doctor’s office, homes, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, and in surgery centers. Medical errors involve tests and diagnosis, medicine, surgery, treatment equipment, home treatment, or lab reports. These errors are majorly caused by poor communication. The medical errors can result in severe injuries or health conditions, and death. Measures need to be put in place to reduce the chances of medical errors.
Beyond the cost of human lives, preventable medical errors lead to other adverse medical outcomes. Medical errors have led to increased medical care expenses, and disability. Household productivity and loss of income are among the common results of medical errors. Both patients and health care practitioners are affected by medical errors in one way, or another. Patients lose trust in the health system. They become dissatisfied in the system. Health practitioners become dissatisfied as well. They lose their morale, and become frustrated at not being able to give the best care for their patients.
There are various types of medical errors. Diagnostic medical errors include delays or errors in diagnosis, failure to apply indicated tests, use of outmoded therapy and tests, and failure to act on results of a test. Examples of treatment medical errors are errors in issuing the treatment, dose or method of using a drug, error in the performance of an operation, a test, or procedure. Avoidable delays in treatment, responding to a test, and giving inappropriate care also examples of treatment medical errors. Preventive medical errors include the failure to provide prophylactic treatment, and inadequate monitoring or follow-up of treatment.
To achieve a better health system, establishing a national focus on research, tools, and protocols to enhance knowledge on safety would help. It would also help to set up a mandatory reporting system where health care facilities and institutions will issue reports of errors made. Other practitioners can then analyze the reports, learn from them, and find possible ways to avoid a repeat of such errors. Another strategy is to raise performance standards in the health care system. High standards will enhance the safety of patients, and motivate the practitioners to give their best at work.
As was mentioned earlier, medical errors are preventable events related to medical procedures. All medical practitioners should therefore, commit to ensuring that the chances of medical errors remain low. After all, it is not right for a preventable medical event to yield to adverse suffering for affected patients.