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Why do medical errors occur?

We all go to the doctor, trusting that they will have the answers when it comes to questions regarding our health. While they have obtained years of education and training, errors can still occur. From the moment you are under the care of medical professionals, medical errors could happen at any point whether it is during initial examination, ordering of tests, review of tests, providing test results, reading the results, suggesting a treatment plan and following up with a treatment plan. One should also note that more than one person could be held accountable for a medical error, depending on when and why it occurred.

Why do medical errors occur? To begin, doctors are not geniuses. They are human beings, subject to the same human errors any one is. While many medical professionals are great at what they do, proving excellent health care to their patients, errors could happen at any point. It could be something simple and minor. A scan is completed and something is missed. And because it was missed for an extended period of time, the patient's health worsened.

But the person reading this scan was not the patient's doctor. In fact, many specialists, such as a pathologist, often do not meet their patient. Thus, when an error occurs, patients do not often think that these errors were made by a specialist that his or her doctor was consulting with. Because it is the doctor's responsibility to make a final diagnosis, information from tests and specialists are relied on. If diagnostic errors occurred because of the mistakes these medical professional made, the patient's doctor will not be able to make an accurate final diagnosis.

While the doctor treating the patient will assume responsibility when medial errors are made during the diagnosis and treatment of a patient, harmed patients should understand that a medical malpractice claim could go beyond that. It is possible to hold all medical professionals and even the hospital or clinic responsible for the medical errors made. This could help the injured patient in their recovery for compensation as well, offsetting the financial damages and losses caused by the incident.

Source: Wbur.com, "The Cost Of Assuming Your Doctor Knows Best," Vinita Parkash, Nov. 13, 2017

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