How Often Do Doctors and Hospitals Make Mistakes? 25 Startling Studies with Answers

When we go to the hospital, we expect that we are going to get better. Unfortunately, hospitals are run by humans, and doctors themselves are human. No matter how expert a health care professional is, there is always the potential for error. However, you might be surprised at how often these errors can occur. Health administration professionals may try to reduce errors, and in some cases errors are not reported as widely as they could be. If you are interested in more information about mistakes made in hospitals and by doctors, these 25 sometimes startling studies can shed some light on this issue:

General Medical Errors

You might be interested in learning about different errors, since a recent HealthGrades study showed that around 195,000 people die from preventable medical mistakes each year.

  1. Errors in Medicine: Learn more about complications in treatment, prevalence of problems and preventable deaths. Looks at the errors made in hospitals and by doctors, and their effects on patients.
  2. Views of Practicing Physicians and the Public on Medical Errors: Learn about the types of errors seen in medicine, and learn how physicians feel about them, as compared to how the public views errors. An interesting comparison, and one that might surprise you.
  3. Patients’ and Physicians’ Attitudes Regarding the Disclosure of Medical Errors: Another interesting comparison of doctors vs. patients. This focuses on the disclosure of medical errors. You might be startled at how some doctors view the need to disclose medical erros.
  4. The Critical Care Safety Study: The incidence and nature of adverse events and serious medical errors in intensive care: Get a good idea of the types of medical errors that occur in intensive care units. Also includes the prevalence of mistakes in hospital intensive care units.
  5. Epidemiology of medical error: A look at how medical error develops, its prevalence, and the consequences of mistakes made in medicine.
  6. Estimating Hospital Deaths Due to Medical Errors: Asks whether or not some of the numbers associated with medical error might be too high. A look at perspective.
  7. Comparison of three methods for estimating rates of adverse events and rates of preventable adverse events in acute care hospitals: There is debate over what constitutes medical error and preventable incidents. This study addresses different ways of reporting.
  8. Error, stress, and teamwork in medicine and aviation: cross sectional surveys: Considers the attitudes had by those involved in medical situations with the stress and situations felt by aircraft cockpit crew. An interesting way of looking at medical error.
  9. Attitudes and barriers to incident reporting: a collaborative hospital study: You might be startled at how many hospitals try to avoid reporting incidents. This study looks at why.

Medication Errors

Medication errors are among the most common. This is because it is relatively easy to mix medications, dosing or overlook a possible allergy or interaction. Here are some studies about medication errors.

  1. Causes of prescribing errors in hospital inpatients: a prospective study: An interesting look at the most common reasons that prescribing errors take place in hospitals.
  2. Ethnographic study of incidence and severity of intravenous drug errors: A look at the errors that occur with the administration of intravenous drugs.
  3. Rates of medication errors among depressed and burnt out residents: prospective cohort study: You might be surprised at the role that being burnt out plays in medication error.
  4. Medication errors in paedriatric practice: insights from a continuous quality improvement approach: Addresses issues related to pediatric medicine and medication errors.
  5. Relationship between medication errors and adverse drug events: Considers the correlation between errors and drug events that can cause discomfort, injury and even death.
  6. Medication Errors Observed in 36 Health Care Facilities: Learn about the medication errors taking place in different facilities. Results can be generalized more widely, taking them beyond the 36 facilities used in the study.
  7. Retrospective analysis of mortalities associated with medication errors: Take a look at how deadly some medication errors can be. Great information on how many medication errors result in death.
  8. Medication errors in neonatal and paediatric intensive-care units: It is scary to think about, but there are errors made in medication for babies and children. Learn more about the errors that occur in the intensive care units for the most vulnerable of patients.
  9. Fundamentals of medication error research: Learn more about the processes used in describing medication errors. A great way to educate yourself about drug errors, and how to read other studies about them.

Mistake Reduction

There are efforts underway to reduce general medical errors and medication errors. Learn more about efforts being made, and how many mistakes could be prevented if certain measures were taken.

  1. The Effect of Computerized Physician Order Entry on Medication Errors and Adverse Drug Events in Pediatric Inpatients: This study looks at how computerized entry could help reduce medication mistakes. After all, this reduces the need to try and decipher illegible prescriptions.
  2. Reducing errors made by emergency physicians in interpreting radiographs: longitudinal study: Considers the number of errors made by emergency physicians regarding reading radiographs and looks at how to reduce these mistakes.
  3. Using information technology to reduce rates of medication errors in hospitals: Learn about how advances in technology can cut down on the rate of medical errors.
  4. Medication Error Prevention by Clinical Pharmacists in Two Children’s Hospitals: A look at how pharmacist intervention can reduce the severity and number of medication errors.
  5. Prioritizing strategies for preventing medication errors and adverse drug events in pediatric inpatients: An interesting look at how it is possible to prevent error. A look at different strategies for reducing medication errors, and prioritizing them.
  6. Promoting Patient Safety by Preventing Medical Error: A look at how medical error can prevented, and the importance of reducing medical errors in order to encourage better patient safety and outcomes.
  7. Reporting and preventing medical mishaps: lessons from non-medical near miss reporting systems: There is a great deal that can be learned about reporting medical errors from systems in place for non-medical systems. This study looks at how applying different reporting techniques to medical systems can help prevent mistakes in the future.

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