Residents in Louisiana know that doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are human. That, however, does not mean that people should expect to have a serious mistake made with regard to their health care. The medical profession should be able to develop processes and systems that help prevent serious errors and the injuries and deaths associated with them. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be happening.
NBC News recently reported on the publication of results from an extremely extensive medical error study that points to a high rate of medical mistakes. As many as 10% of patients are believed to experience some sort of harm due to a medical error. What may be even worse is that so many of the errors are believed to be preventable. The report evaluated more than 335,000 cases and discovered more than 28,000 events that led to patient harm. More than half of those events were identified as preventable.
The nature of the errors varied but it was therapeutic services and medications that topped the list of factors. These were involved in almost half of all of the errors. Diagnostic errors were involved in 16% of cases as were problems related to patient infections. Surgical errors were identified in 23% of cases.
Among the preventable errors, 49% were associated with mild injury to patients and 36% were associated with moderate levels of patient harm. Another 12% were said to be connected to the death of a patient or the permanent disability of a patient. The information was compiled from 70 reports previously published on medical mistakes.