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Are medical errors common in health care?

For many Washington residents like yourself, going into a medical procedure can bring with it feelings of anxiety and stress. Often, these emotions are tied to fear of the unknown, treatment and healing, and your level of pain tolerance. However, should you also be concerned about whether or not your health is in jeopardy at the hands of a professional? While doctors follow rigid protocols to secure each patient’s safety, medical errors are far more common than you may realize, and your awareness can help you take active measures to protect your safety.

Endocrine News suggests that a medical error is any type of mistake during a medical procedure that could cause you severe injury or death. Common medical errors include the following:

  • Incorrect diagnoses
  • Unnecessary blood transfusions
  • Wrong-site surgery

Doctors, while professionally trained, are prone to three primary types of medical errors while providing you with treatment. These include the following:

  • Action-based errors: These occur when a medical professional may accidentally grab the incorrect instrument or push a wrong button during your anesthesia treatment for example.
  • Rule-based errors: You could be the victim of a rule-based error if your doctor completely bypasses or ignores important rules that have been put into place for your protection as the patient.
  • Memory-based errors: A seemingly simple misstep like your doctor forgetting that you have a dangerous allergic reaction to amoxicillin, could mean a life-threatening outcome for you.

Your careful selection of an attentive and professional medical provider and vigilant follow-up about your treatment can be what keeps you from becoming one of the 210,000 to 440,000 deaths attributed to medical errors as reported in 2013.

This information is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal or medical advice. 

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