Usually when we think of a medicine mix-up, we think of a nurse accidentally walking into the wrong patient’s room, or perhaps calling Sean by the name of John. We would like to think that only harmless misunderstandings occur in a professional establishment like a big city hospital. However, there have been some serious cases (meaning death and critical injury) that were caused by relatively minor errors such as wrong patient confusion.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services speculated that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die in hospitals every year due to preventable medical mistakes. Even if only 44,000 died each year then that would still make medical malpractice a bigger killer than motor vehicle accidents or AIDS. The report further states that at least 7,000 people die form medication errors alone. Many of these cases involve a medicine mix-up or writing the prescription for the wrong patient.
While it’s understandable that a doctor can make a human error, it’s hard to deny the right of the patient to be unhappy-even outraged at the professional negligence that has been shown. In order to understand the right of the patient, one must first understand medical errors in general. A doctor is not guilty of medical malpractice for failing to save a patient’s life. He becomes guilty when he falls below the standard of quality care set by the medical profession. Not caring enough about one’s patients so as to tell the difference between the right and wrong patient is a reckless mistake.
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices lists some of the most common mistakes involved in wrong patient and drugs cases.
• Mixing Up Patient Profiles: A doctor could make this error as could a pharmacist. It can be easy to enter in a patient’s name incorrectly on a keyboard or fail to read the correct name due to poor handwriting or poor copy quality.
• Mixing Up Monitoring Results: Prescribed medications based on diagnostic or patient monitoring results may be incorrect and medicine mix ups may happen because of a lab error.
• Mixing Up Medication Administration Records: The MARS file may be in error with other recorded information; therefore doctors are advised to verify the information with the patient and get two unique patient identifiers before proceeding.
Premiere, an informational and group sharing medical company, states that the lack of coordination in care is a common problem. Coordination of care suffers when “several healthcare practitioners manage the same patients, since all involved practitioners may not have complete information about the medicines prescribed.”
Wrong patient errors may also result in performing the wrong procedure on a patient, as well as medical mix ups. In either event, when the doctor makes such a costly error she must own up to responsibility.
If you have been the victim of hospital mistake in a drug swap or medicine mix-up case then contact our Dallas-based hospital mistake lawyer. You may be entitled to medical and cash benefits as well as pain and suffering.