The medical profession has spent many years learning about the consequences of negligence in medicine, but the public is largely untrained in this area. Many people are under the false impression that negligence only occurs when something becomes seriously wrong – a surgery gone awry, an allergic reaction in a child, an overdose at a drug rehabilitation centre, or death caused by mistake or over-caffeination. But this is largely an untrue view, and many people have suffered injury or death as a result of negligence in the medical profession without their knowledge or permission.
The importance of avoiding avoidable harm in health care settings cannot be underestimated. Studies have been regularly conducted in hospitals and reveal that most patients who seek treatment from doctors or nurses suffer long-term harm either through errors made by the medical practitioner or through actions that the medical practitioner has taken. These cases often end up in court as patients seek damages for suffering caused by errors made by healthcare workers.
So what exactly are the types of avoidable harm? They can include, but are not limited to, death caused by mistakes made during surgical operations, incorrect administration of medication, ineffective monitoring of a patient’s condition, adverse reaction to medication or surgery, and similar situations. There are many different factors that come into play when health care workers are faced with these situations, and the jury must be shown mercy sometimes to ensure that injured patients get justice. While most injuries sustained as a result of avoidable harm will heal themselves over time, there are circumstances where patients might lose their ability to fully function. This is often devastating for families, and doctors and nurses are expected to do everything possible within their power to minimise this risk and reduce the likelihood of serious injury or death occurring.
Some of the common ways in which avoidable harm occurs are through negligence in clinical procedure, errors during administering drugs or anesthesia, errors during treatment, inadequate supervision of a surgical room, and falling under anesthesia. Researchers have begun to analyse the possible outcomes if all these scenarios were included in one study. It has been found that almost half of all deaths arising from avoidable harm were due to errors, rather than the direct action of the patient. This makes it clear that avoiding any mistakes, or even simply making sure that they are kept to a minimum, is really important in the medical industry.
Avoidable harm also arises from medication error, either making the wrong dosage of medication, inappropriately mixing different medication types, or even using counterfeit medication. While it may seem unlikely that such situations would actually cause death, studies have demonstrated that nearly one third of all medication errors lead to death. Similarly, the use of inappropriate dose of anesthetic or anesthesia can cause harm to patients, and sometimes, these situations can go unnoticed until too late. Research has also shown that almost one third of all surgeries result in permanent damage to internal organs. It has been found that almost one third of all vegetative invasive surgery results in death, while only one third of surgical errors lead to death. Given these disturbing facts, it is clear that the importance of patient safety is high on the agenda of doctors and hospitals.
The bottom line is that healthcare organizations must focus their resources on ensuring that patients receive safe care. It is important for healthcare organizations to evaluate the success rate of each department in providing this service. Also, since clinical documentation is the backbone of medical ethics, organizations should focus on making sure that they are properly maintaining this documentation. Lastly, patients should be wary of any healthcare providers who are found to be ignoring avoidable harm. By law, patients have the right to seek compensation if they suffer from unnecessary harm, and by making sure that every practitioner adheres to standards of acceptable care, it is possible to ensure that patients receive safe care at all times.