When being treated by a medical professional, you expect the top level of care, attention to detail, and expertise to ensure that you are receiving the necessary treatment. However, when medical errors occur these can add an additional financial burden, worsen your health, or even cost you your life.

Why are Medical Errors a Problem?

Doctors and other health professionals, prioritize patient health and safety in every interaction. However, as humans, mistakes can still occur. According to Yale University, each year preventable medical errors claim more than 22,000 lives for a variety of reasons.

Not all medical errors occur due to bad doctors, nurses or healthcare professionals.


While not uncommon, doctors work extremely long shifts and frequently with little rest. During their residency, doctors can be expected to routinely work up to 80 hours a week. While their bodies can be trained to handle the long shifts, when fatigue sits in, it can be harder to concentrate which leads to medical errors.

Poor Communication

Poor communication is cited as the number one cause of medical errors. Whether it’s between a physician, nurse, healthcare team member, or patient, improper communication often leads to medical errors. Alexander A. Hannenberg, M.D., principal consultant-anesthesiology, OR Dx + Rx Solutions for Surgical Safety, estimates that between 70-80% of adverse events are related to communication failures.

Administrative Error

Healthcare administration is critical when it comes to daily operations and patient management. As the healthcare field continues to evolve with technology, digital administration has led to increased medical errors as individuals familiarize themselves with the technology. Failure to check information or inputting the wrong information can lead to costly mistakes.


During their medical school rotations, doctors can participate in patient care, diagnoses, surgeries, and more depending on their specialties. While everyone must start somewhere, an inexperienced doctor can make mistakes.

Human Error

In medicine, there are strict medical protocols and standards of care that should be met in every patient interaction and when those guidelines are not met it can lead to adverse outcomes and even death.

Poor Care Coordination

Similar to administration errors, coordination is essential to provide necessary care to patients. Care coordination involves a system of care to ensure that all the patient’s needs and diagnoses are being addressed properly. When a good system is put into place, medical errors can be reduced by 30%.

While doctors prioritize the patient’s health, there are many factors that could lead to medical errors.

The Most Common Types of Medical Errors


When misdiagnosed patients are missing the necessary care that is needed. Misdiagnosis can lead to worsening symptoms or the wrong treatment plan altogether.

Medication Error

Medication error is among the more common medical errors. This error can occur by the doctor who prescribes the wrong medication, dosage or sends it to the pharmacy incorrectly. The pharmacy can also make the mistake as they’re the ones responsible for reading, filling, and providing prescription instructions for the patient.

Surgical Infection

Before and after surgery, doctors are instructed to take note of the number of tools, bandages, and other supplies before closing. However, mistakes can happen and materials can be left inside the body leading to infection and the need for an additional surgery to remove the objects.

Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis often occurs when the medical professional does not believe the patient is exhibiting any symptoms. When a delayed diagnosis occurs due to lack of belief or refusal to treat, the existing health condition can worsen before proper intervention.

What You Can Do

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals strive to deliver a high quality of care to ensure their patients’ health and safety. However, you can take a step in reducing medical errors by being an advocate for your health.

  • Provide your healthcare staff with a list of current medications, dosages, and any allergies.
  • When receiving a new medication, ask for a written copy of dosage, name, and its side effects.
  • Ask your care team questions
  • Bring a family member, friend, or someone you trust to important appointments.
  • Follow up with tests and screenings if they do not contact you about the results.

Foley and Murphy–Your Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a family member has been injured as a result of the medical errors or negligence of a health care provider, contact us at 800-276-2525. Let the attorneys and staff of Foley & Murphy use their experience and expertise to help you and your family.

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