Are Medical Errors Preventable?

One of the most frequent causes of death in this country is preventable medical errors. According to national statistics, one out of every 10 hospital patients becomes a victim of a preventable medical error. These critical mistakes range anywhere from minor miscommunications to major, significant errors, all of which can result in severe disability or death to the patient. Preventable medical errors include misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, medication errors, surgical errors, and anesthesia errors.

For those victims who are fortunate enough to survive these preventable medical mistakes, the road to recovery often involves multiple hospitalizations, high medical expenses, infections, painful treatments, and serious financial ramifications from loss of income.

Medication Errors

There is a crucial need for medical facilities to implement procedures, protocols, and training to ensure these preventable mistakes do not happen. Medication errors are the most common errors – affecting approximately 1.5 million patients each year. Although many hospitalized patients receive their medications orally, a great many patients receive their medications either intravenously or directly into their spinal canal, greatly increasing the risks of mistakes.

The need to keep patients safe and eliminate the risks of medication error has led some medical associations to directly address the issue and announce steps medical professionals can take to prevent mistakes.

One such example involves the drug Vincristine, a common drug used to treat cancer patients. is used to block the spread of cancer. Many chemotherapy medications are administered directly into the spine; however, if Vincristine is administered this way, patients can suffer from neurological defects, paralysis, and death. Instead, many oncology nurses administer the drug by intravenous push, using a side port on an IV line. However, this exposes another risk to patients, whereby the drug can leak into surrounding tissues.

A few years ago, the Oncology Nursing Society issued a recommendation that the drug should only be given via mini-intravenous drip bags. The recommendation also included a mandate that all oncology nurses in the country be provided with this updated information and training for correct administration.

What to Do If You Have Been a Malpractice Victim?

If you have suffered injury or illness due to receiving improperly administered medication, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim against the medical personnel who gave you the medication and the medical facility where it happened. In addition to any economic damages you may have suffered – such as medical expenses and loss of income – you may also be entitled to damages for any disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, pain, and any other suffering you endured.

A skilled Virginia medical malpractice attorney is available to discuss your case and what legal options you may have. Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation and find out what legal recourse you may have against those parties responsible for your injuries.