Why do medical errors occur?

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Whether people like it or not, medical errors pretty much occur more often than what is reported. Regardless if the mistake has caused harm to the patient or not, mistakes and missteps by healthcare providers are classified as medical errors. These errors may be in the form wrong medication given, wrong dosage calculation, inaccurate or incomplete medical diagnosis, or insufficient treatment among many others.  With so many things involved in one medical error, there is also no definite cause for each one of these errors.

In terms of probable cause, one important thing that may lead to medical errors is the lack of access to patient details and information. When a healthcare provider for example does not have all the details regarding a patient’s condition and history for example, he/she may not come up with the right diagnosis and therefore give the wrong, inappropriate, or insufficient treatment program.  Medical errors are also common for people who are not familiar or knowledgeable with some drugs and medical procedures.  In case of drug dosage for example, health care providers may give the most basic dosage of a particular drug. This conservative move may not be the most effective for some patients and may even be harmful also.

Illegible prescriptions and misspelled drug names or instructions are also common causes of medical errors.  Whenever a pharmacist encounters prescriptions that are hard to read, there is a tendency that he/she guesses on what is actually written.  In some cases, the guess may be wrong and the wrong drug or instruction may be given.  In terms of drug administration, common medical errors may in the form of wrong timing and this may be caused by negligence and/or a very busy schedule. When nurses have too many patients to attend to, the proper timing of drug administration may not be followed.

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