Before we take medication or undergo a medical procedure, a doctor or other medical professional typically explains the risks associated with them. They should explain potential adverse outcomes and what patients can do to avoid harmful interactions and outcomes.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest risks patients face when it comes to their medical care is one they are not warned about: medical negligence.
Examples of medical negligence
Medical negligence refers to a failed duty to provide a standard level of care to patients. It can take several forms, including:
- Improper operations
- Unreasonable medical decisions
- Wrong site surgery
- Medical mistakes
Troublingly, these and other forms of medical negligence are almost always preventable; they occur because someone made a mistake. And knowing what factors can increase the risk of these mistakes can help patients make informed decisions that allow them to protect themselves.
Risk factors to be aware of
Medical errors can be more likely to happen in certain situations. For instance, a mistake can be more likely if:
- A care provider is untrained or certified to perform certain tasks
- There is a staffing shortage, resulting in poor follow-up care and patient oversight
- Workers do not follow appropriate sterilization practices
- The hospital has poor records management system
- Doctors do not spend adequate time with patients
- Parties prioritize profit over patient health
These factors can be evidence that a facility or care provider is unable to unwilling to do what they need to do to protect patients seeking care.
Patients can do some preparatory research before a specific procedure or visit to reduce their risk of suffering a medical mistake.
They can look into the facility’s reputation and reviews online and check a doctor’s board history for possile violations. They should ask questions and consider bringing a loved one to appointments. If you have doubts or concerns about your care or a medical professional’s actions, seeking another opinion can be crucial.
Unfortunately, there is only so much patients can do to prevent medical negligence. Much of the responsibility falls in the hands of the doctors, nurses and hospital administrators who set and follow rules for standard care.
If these parties fail in their duty to keep patients safe, they can and should be accountable for the consequences of these missteps.