Wrong Patient Errors are Common in Healthcare

Results of a recent patient safety study illustrate a troubling problem known as “wrong-patient” errors in the field of health care.  The ECRI Institute, a non-profit research group focused on patient safety, identified at least two cases of mistaken identity which resulted in patient fatalities, the report states.

From January 2013 to July 2015, over 7,000 cases of wrong-patient error were voluntarily reported as part of a federal monitoring program.  Researchers estimate that the reported cases represent only a fraction of wrong-patient errors that occur across the nation each year.

wrong patient errors are common at hospitals

Wrong-patient errors can result in over-medication, exposing a patient to unnecessary radiation through diagnostic testing, or, in extreme cases, even conducting surgery on the wrong patient.  Many hospitals and healthcare providers do not have adequate policies and procedures to stop these errors from occurring.

However, even when safeguards have been put in place to avoid wrong-patient errors, doctors and staff may violate protocols or they may not have been properly trained on the best practices.  Hospitals and health care facilities can be held legally responsible for any injuries sustained by a patient due to a wrong-patient error.

In the event of a wrong-patient error, a detailed investigation must be conducted to determine how the mistake occurred, whether policies had been implemented to avoid such errors, and, what procedural violations directly led to the error.

A thorough investigation requires in-depth knowledge of the medical field and healthcare administration. This is a complicated area of the law and you don’t have a case simply because you can prove a mix-up. A patient must demonstrate that this error resulted in serious harm. If, for example, your X-ray found a serious condition like cancer but it was switched with another patient’s record, the mix-up may lead to a failure to treat you that could have tragic consequences. In one case, a patient in cardiac arrest was not resuscitated because he had been confused with a patient with a do-not-resuscitate order.

If you have been harmed by a wrong-patient error, do not wait to contact a legal professional to get your investigation started.  The attorneys at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers would be glad to discuss your case with you and determine how to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Call us at (757) 455-0077

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