10 Shocking Medical Mistakes

Here’s a list of 10 shocking medical mistakes and ways to not become a victim:

1. Mistake: Treating the wrong patient Cause: Hospital staff fails to verify a patient’s identity. • Consequences: Patients with similar names are confused. • Prevention: Before every procedure in the hospital, make sure the staff checks your entire name, date of birth and barcode on your wrist band. • Example case: Kerry Higuera

2. Mistake: Surgical souvenirs Cause: Surgical staff miscounts (or fails to count) equipment used inside a patient during an operation. • Consequences: Tools get left inside the body. • Prevention: If you have unexpected pain, fever or swelling after surgery, ask if you might have a surgical instrument inside you. • Example case: Nelson Bailey

3. Mistake: Lost patients Cause: Patients with dementia are sometimes prone to wandering. • Consequences: Patients may become trapped while wandering and die from hypothermia or dehydration. • Prevention: If your loved one sometimes wanders, consider a GPS tracking bracelet. • Example case: Mary Col

4. Mistake: Fake doctors Cause: Con artists pretend to be doctors. • Consequences: Medical treatments backfire. Instead of getting better, patients get sicker. • Prevention: Confirm online that your physician is licensed. • Example case: Sarafina Gerling

5. Mistake: The ER waiting game Cause: Emergency rooms get backed up when overcrowded hospitals don’t have enough beds. • Consequences: Patients get sicker while waiting for care. • Prevention: Doctors listen to other doctors, so on your way to the hospital call your physician and ask them to call the emergency room. • Example case: Malyia Jeffers

6. Mistake: Air bubbles in blood Cause: The hole in a patient’s chest isn’t sealed airtight after a chest tube is removed. • Consequences: Air bubbles get sucked into the wound and cut off blood supply to the patient’s lungs, heart, kidneys and brain. Left uncorrected the patient dies. • Prevention: If you have a central line tube in you, ask how you should be positioned when the line comes out. • Example case: Blake Fought 7. Mistake: Operating on the wrong body part Cause: A patient’s chart is incorrect, or a surgeon misreads it, or surgical draping obscures marks that denote the correct side of the operation. • Consequences: The surgeon cuts into the wrong side of a patient’s body. • Prevention: Just before surgery, make sure you reaffirm with the nurse and the surgeon the correct body part and side of your operation. • Example case: Jesse Matlock 8. Mistake: Infection infestation Cause: Doctors and nurses don’t wash their hands. • Consequences: Patients can die from infections spread by hospital workers. • Prevention: It may be uncomfortable to ask, but make sure doctors and nurses wash their hands before they touch you, even if they’re wearing gloves. • Example case: Josh Nahum

9. Mistake: Lookalike tubes Cause: A chest tube and a feeding tube can look a lot alike. • Consequences: Medicine meant for the stomach goes into the chest. • Prevention: When you have tubes in you, ask the staff to trace every tube back to the point of origin so the right medicine goes to the right place. • Example case: Alicia Coleman

10. Mistake: Waking up during surgery Cause: An under-dose of anesthesia. • Consequences: The brain stays awake while the muscles stay frozen. Most patients aren’t in any pain but some feel every poke, prod and cut. • Prevention: When you schedule surgery, ask your surgeon if you need to be put asleep or if a local anesthetic might work just as well. • Example case: Erin Cook

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