Those who have gone to the doctor in Pennsylvania may wonder about the accuracy of their medical diagnosis. Unfortunately, doctors don’t always get it right. A study published in the journal BMJ found that 1 out of every 20 patients is affected by preventable medical errors. Unfortunately, 12% of these preventable errors lead to permanent disability or death.
Researchers reviewed the charts of over 337,000 patients from 70 different studies in countries in both Europe and the United States. The majority of the cases of preventable harm were related to prescribed medications and treatments. Other studies have found similar results; one 2016 study found that over 250,000 deaths in the United States were due to preventable medical errors.
Though researchers say that there are things health care providers should be doing to minimize the problem, patients can help as well. Patients need to fully understand any prescribed medications and procedures that will be performed. Experts encourage patients to bring a friend along to appointments who can take notes and ask questions. Additionally, patients should always bring a list of all medications, supplements and any allergies they have so that charts can be continually updated.
Medical providers take an oath that they will do no harm to their patients. This includes taking the time to make sure that no prescribed medications have contraindications to other medications or supplements. Doctors often see many patients a day, so it’s typical for many health care providers to spend only a few minutes with each patient. They might not have the time to go over prescriptions or look at their chart. If a doctor prescribes a medication that a patient is allergic to because they didn’t look over their chart, the patient might have serious adverse effects. A civil suit may be filed against the doctor for medical malpractice. If it can be proved that the doctor was medically negligent, damages might be awarded.