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Medical mistakes, what are they and how can you avoid them, pt. 1

Every now and then the media reports on a shocking medical mistake that really makes you wonder. When we put our trust in a doctor to make us feel better by fighting a deadly disease such as cancer or some other life-threatening medical condition, we want to know we are in good hands. But according to a recent report from an internist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, mistakes are happening every day and in every hospital across the country, including those in New York City. In fact, medical mistakes or errors result in the deaths of more than 250,000 patients every year in the United States, and millions more are injured.

Exactly what are these mistakes you may ask? The answer to that question just may shock you. Here are the first five of the top ten medical mistakes; including the cause, consequences and ways these mistakes can be prevented.

  • Doctors treat the wrong patient because staff members fail to verify the patient's identity. Avoid becoming a victim by making sure before you are treated staff members verify your name, date of birth and the barcode on your wrist.
  • Doctors leave "surgical souvenirs" inside a patient because they failed to count or miscount surgical instruments and tools used during surgery. Any unexpected pain, fevers, swelling or infections should be investigated. Ask staff if it is possible something was left inside you after surgery.
  • A patient becomes "lost" due to wandering off. Dementia patients are likely to wander and can become trapped and become severely dehydrated or die as a result. A GPS bracelet can avoid these incidents.
  • Doctors with fake credentials can be especially detrimental to a patient's health. Instead of getting better, a patient gets worse. Confirm online or at the facility that your physician is properly licensed.
  • A patient waits too long in the emergency room and his or her symptoms get worse during the wait. Since doctors will listen to other doctors some waits can be avoided by calling your regular doctor while on the way to the emergency room. Ask your doctor to call the emergency room in advance of your arrival.

Watch for next week's post to continue on the top ten medical mistakes and ways you or a loved one can avoid becoming a victim to medical malpractice. And if you or a family member do become a victim, remember you may be entitled to damages in the form of a personal injury or wrongful claim against the physician or facility responsible for your injuries.

Source: CNN, "10 shocking medical mistakes," John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen, Nov. 5, 2012

Our New York City personal injury law firm helps families recover damages from medical malpractice, doctor negligence and surgical errors committed at healthcare facilities.

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