We like to believe that we can trust our doctors, nurses, and surgeons. After all, they go through years and years of schooling and training. Most medical practitioners are extremely bright, and have a desire to learn more and do their best at everything they do. Yet, what happens when your doctor makes a medical mistake? The results could be disastrous, sometimes resulting in serious injury or death.
This list of 10 implausible medical errors may indeed make you stop trusting your doctor. While many of these occurrences are quite uncommon, some of them take place more often than we may think. These medical mistakes are terrifying, and are caused by a wide range of behaviors and mannerisms. From pure negligence to a lack of training and knowledge, there are many reasons why these slip-ups can occur.
Doctors and other medical professionals need to communicate clearly and regularly, as well as keep themselves updated on new medical advancements and research. While it is impossible to be all-knowing, there are things that medical experts can do to avoid these mistakes that are deemed “never events” by the Department of Health. Hopefully, you never experience any of the items on our list.
10. Giving the Wrong Diagnosis
Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common problem in the medical world. Doctors and surgeons give patients a mistaken diagnosis 10% to 20% of the time. This slip-up could have disastrous results. Sometimes the mistake could lead to life-threatening complications, or in some cases, death. Most patients experience misdiagnoses from their general practitioners, but even top-notch surgeons and doctors are guilty of these errors. The main reasons behind these blunders include negligence on the doctor’s part, as well as inexperience, and not taking the problem seriously. Medical practitioners need to perform tests to make a correct diagnosis, so always ensure that your concerns are not thrown by the wayside.
9. Incorrectly Labeling Blood Types
Matching the correct blood type to the correct patient is crucial. As most of us know, there are certain combinations of blood types that are not compatible. When doctors are not careful, they can end up giving blood transfusions that end up fatal. Mix-ups between patients and blood types often occur from analytical problems within the laboratory, but they can also be a result of miscommunication between medical practitioners and offices (whether face-to-face, or through electronic and written means.) Such errors have occurred at different stages of diagnoses and treatments of varying degrees of severity. The scary part is that blood samples, tests, and transfusions are such common practices in the medical world.
8. Giving the Wrong Drugs (Or Wrong Dosage)
The statistics surrounding this medical mistake are astounding. Each year, more than a million patients in the United States experience complications from incorrect dosage or the wrong medications and drugs. Prescribing the wrong medications to patients could result in worsening the client’s condition, or even death. Most of the drug mistakes that occur within the medical field are related to incorrect dosages, and depending on the patient, their diagnosis, and the drug involved, the results could be catastrophic. Consider especially dangerous drugs; in small doses, they are beneficial, yet all it takes is one slip-up to potentially poison a patient.
7. Exacerbating the Problem
Doctors, nurses, and surgeons are meant to make us better when we are ill. Yet, what happens when these medical experts make grave mistakes that end up worsening our problem or condition? It does happen, and the reasons why are numerous. If multiple professionals are working with a patient, a rigorous adherence to safety and health laws and regulations is even more important. Communication and collaboration must be spot-on, as well; you need everyone to be on the same page. Unfortunately, there are times when doctors can end up worsening the condition, either through prescribing an incorrect drug, administering unnecessary procedures, or making a misdiagnosis.
6. Using Dirty Surgical Tools
Undergoing surgery is scary enough. What happens when doctors use surgical tools that are dirty or contaminated? Fatal infections and illnesses can result from surgical equipment and tools that are not cleaned and disinfected thoroughly. Bodily substances such as blood could remain on these instruments, and then cause serious complications in the patient. With medical advancements introducing robotic doctors and surgeries, there is a greater awareness that robots do not have the critical thinking skills to inspect tools for bacteria and contamination. What is worse, hospitals are not even required to report incidents of contaminated surgical tools! Yet, patients could end up suffering from the consequences for the rest of their lives.
5. Giving the Wrong Dose Of Anesthesia
This is one of our worst nightmares: going in for an operation and waking up during the surgery. Imagine, opening your eyes to find yourself laying on a table in the operating room, being sliced open, with surgeons poking and prodding around. It has happened to a number of people, and it is a traumatizing experience that one in every 1,000 patients goes through. That statistic is staggering and terrifying. Due to the anesthesia, patients are unable to move or speak, and must sit through the surgery unless a doctor realizes their mistake. Some patients who suffer from this go on to have serious psychological issues.
4. Removing Unnecessary Body Parts And Organs
Removing the wrong body part or organ is considered an event that is never supposed to happen, according to the Department of Health. Doctors and hospitals that make these mistakes may never even report them if they can avoid getting away with it. There is no decent reinforcement in the matter, and there is always the risk of having to pay for the costs to both the patient and the National Institutes of Health. Such horror stories as surgeons amputating the wrong leg on a patient, or operating on the wrong side of a patient’s brain, have occurred. While these instances are rare, they are situations that should never even happen.
3. Mixing up Patients’ Identities
There are circumstances when nurses, doctors, or surgeons mix up patients’ identities and end up ruining their lives, or causing further complications. In some cases, nurses mistake a drug dosage between patients in the same hospital room. Other cases involve doctors mistaking patients with similar-sounding names, and performing a totally unnecessary surgery. These slip-ups could be fatal, and there is no need for such mistakes. Registering patients correctly in the hospital database, as well as triple-checking everything can help to ensure these horrific occurrences are avoided. Moreover, these assurance practices need to be performed at all medical levels, not just in a patient’s recovery room, when it is usually too late to take action.
2. Performing the Wrong Operation
What happens when you go in for a liver operation and find that the doctors are not paying attention? Maybe you end up with a removed kidney, or a triple by-pass heart surgery. It does happen, and it is absolutely terrifying. Doctors who do not ensure clarity and assurance can end up performing operations that are not even necessary. Furthermore, they may perform serious surgeries that target a completely different body part than the one that is necessary. The lesson? Always get a second opinion, and ensure that testing is extensive in order to make a correct diagnosis. We want to trust our medical professionals, but can we?
1. Leaving Surgical Tools In A Patient
This is an occurrence that is more common than we would like to believe. There are so many cases in which surgeons leave medical instruments in the patient after performing the operation and stitching them up. Sometimes, rather large objects are left inside the patient’s body! Think forceps and scalpels that are left in organs. This can lead to serious complications or even new problems for the patient. Not only can physical harm result, but many patients could experience post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological issues. Even scarier is that sometimes these left-behind objects are not discovered until years later, when serious problems become apparent.