Deaths of Patients from Hospital Errors in U.S.

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One of the most asked questions is what the leading cause of death in hospitals is. John Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people in the United States die every year from hospital errors, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. By studying mistakes in the hospital, learning how to prevent them, and respond to them correctly is the key to changing the standard of care. Hospital errors are defined as mistakes done by medical professionals resulting in harmful and dangerous complications for the patients. Some errors include misdiagnosis, medication, surgery, improper equipment, communication problems, anesthesia and negligence.

The most common medical error is misdiagnosis. Some of the errors eventually will be caught and cause no harm to the patient, but some can be life-threatening. If a patient gets misdiagnosed, then they would have to undergo unnecessary surgical procedures that could increase the risk of infection. The procedures are costly and result in excessive medical expenses. A physician may order medication to treat the misdiagnosis. The medication might give side effects that can affect the patients' health.

Americans die each year from medication errors. Physicians can be liable for prescribing the wrong medication. They can make a mistake about what kind of medication needed and what dosage. Different medications must be given in different ways like if the medication must be administered hypodermically, the nurse might give the shot in the wrong place. Patients need to be told about common side effects of the medicine, as well as what types of food to stay away from. Always ask your doctor about the side effects and the food and drinks to avoid when taking medication.

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It is often said that there are no such things as a minor surgery. Nobody wants to hear an error occurred right after having surgery. If the surgeon hasn’t performed the surgery a lot and they can lack skills to perform the surgery successfully. Surgeons may think that certain steps can be skipped and take shortcuts during the procedure. If there is poor communication that can result in critical errors. For example, there can be miscommunication about proper dosage of a patient’s medication. All of these can result in serious problems.
Medical devices are necessary to provide treatment to patients that need services done depending on the condition. When the machine gets an error, the patient may suffer and if the machine causes a malfunction, injury is often the next stage of the complications. Some errors cause serious problems that could even lead to death like if a person needs insulin or an electric charge pacemaker. When the patient suffers injury or dies from a machine error, it didn’t let the machine do what it needs to do to give the patient the medication. The most machines to cause an error are pacemakers, shunts, and ventilators.

Poor communication has been a factor in 1,744 patients' deaths over the 5 years according to a study published in FierceHealthcare. Communication is important in hospitals and clinics. Many patient deaths are caused by communication errors and they can be preventable. Effective communication is important for health care providers to protect their patients, money, and operations. Moving patients, sending medical records, and transporting vital medical equipment all require communication. A minor printing mistake can lead to incorrect dosage or incomplete information may keep a doctor knowing about an allergy.

Anesthesia errors are more dangerous then surgery errors. A small error caused by an anesthesiologist can cause permanent damage to the brain or even cause death. The anesthesiologist can cause medical malpractice before giving anesthesia by failing to look through the patients' medical history or failing to talk to the patient about risks that can happen. Errors can happen during surgery with anesthesia by giving too much to the patient, failing to watch the vital signs, or using defective equipment. Anesthesia awareness is a situation where the patient isn’t given the right amount of anesthesia. The awareness can be scary to experience because the patient has a risk of not being able to speak but are aware of their surroundings.

Medical negligence happens when the medical staff fails to provide care. Birth injuries and medical errors occur when a physician acts negligently and fails the standard quality of medical care. When negligence happens, it can cause many injuries during pregnancy or after childbirth. Doctor negligence can happen when they fail to tell the parents of the infants' abnormality, failing to help parents avoid a pregnancy by a hysterectomy, and failing to diagnose something.

Ultimately, hospital errors are the leading cause of death in the United States. The errors are defined as mistakes made by a doctor or nurse and can be harmful. Misdiagnosis, medication, surgery, improper use of equipment, communication problems, anesthesia and negligence are all examples of medical errors. When a patient gets misdiagnosed it can be life-threatening to the patient. Doctors can give the patients the wrong medicine by not looking if they are allergic to any. If the physician hasn’t performed a surgery that often then they think steps can be skipped and that can cause more damage to the patient. Machines are very helpful to patients that need insulin and if they don’t get the insulin the patient could die. Communication is one of the most things needed in the hospital because if doctors and nurses don’t communicate then no one will know where a patient needs to go. If too much anesthesia is given the patient has a chance of not being able to speak. Medical negligence is caused by doctors failing to tell the patient problems that occurred. By studying mistakes in the hospital is the key to changing the standard of care.

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