Preventable medical errors are a nationwide problem

Maryland residents are quite familiar with medical errors, such as wrong-site surgery, birth injury and misdiagnosis. These medical errors can cause serious harm to a patient, or even cause death in some cases.

Medical errors claim 98,000 lives annually. Last year, a new study showed that the total number of people dying from preventable medical errors was higher than what was expected. Another study from the Journal of Patient Safety showed that as many as 210,000 to 410,000 patients suffer from preventable harm in the hands of healthcare professionals.

To address the issue, the healthcare community is constantly trying to find new and innovative ways to prevent medical errors. Some hospitals are using a non-punitive approach - thoroughly examining the error to determine if it was specific to that particular patient or caused by as system-wide problem. By doing so, hospitals will be able to determine if the medical error was caused by lack of training or failure to follow standard procedures. If the error was a result of a system-wide problem, the healthcare community can find a way to revamp the procedure to make it safer for the patients.

One of the reasons why medical errors occur is miscommunication, which often happens when a patient is transferred from one provider to another. According to Boston researchers, a structured handoff process can prevent such mistakes.

When medical errors occur, an injured patient may wish to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Before filing, the victim should first obtain medical records from the provider. These records can be interpreted by an independent doctor in order for the injured patient to fully understand if they have the right to file a claim.

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