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The 7 Most Common Medical Errors Explained

By: Anapol Weiss

Medical errors can cost you your health, additional medical expenses, and even your life. We trust the health care practitioners and facilities we use to help us feel better, and a preventable medical mistake is a violation of that trust. From shaking your faith in the system to damaging the health of you or a loved one, the fall out from a medical error is life-changing. With help from an experienced medical malpractice attorney, you can get the compensation you need to get your health and finances back on track.

Preventable Medical Error Causes

Medical errors happen when, despite there being a more correct treatment path for the patient, a different treatment is used inadvertently or contrary to what a reasonable practitioner would have chosen under similar circumstances. There are several common reasons why this type of medical malpractice happens:

  • Fatigue – Doctors work long shifts, frequently with little rest. When fatigue sets in, it can be harder to think and concentrate, leading to mistakes.

  • User Error – In the shift to digital administration, medical errors can occur when a practitioner is unfamiliar with a system or fails to double-check the information put in. A slight misclick on a drop-down menu could lead to a mistake.

  • Inexperience – Everyone has to start somewhere, but when a new doctor fails to take into account diagnostic tools or symptoms outside their experience, it can lead to a preventable error that could have been avoided.

  • Human Error – Medical protocols and standards of care are established to ensure that providers perform to a high standard, and when those guidelines and regulations aren’t met, it can lead to suffering, sickness, or death.

Most Common Preventable Medical Errors

While any medical mistake can be an issue, there are some that we see more often. These frequent errors can lead to negative consequences for the patients and those who love and care for them.


The wrong diagnosis can prove catastrophic to a patient in serious need of medical intervention. The best-case scenario is that the proper treatment is merely delayed, however, it could also turn out far worse. The wrong treatment can leave a condition rapidly worsening into increasingly severe symptoms, and some treatments can be harmful if they aren’t being performed for the appropriate reasons.

Delayed Diagnosis

A refusal to believe there is an underlying medical condition can be just as dangerous as a misdiagnosis. Studies have shown that women and minorities experience difficulty in their pain and clinical symptoms being taken seriously by medical practitioners. This can lead to extended periods of suffering and a worsening of the condition before proper medical intervention is offered.

Medication Error

One of the most common medical errors occurs when a patient gets the wrong medication. This can be an error by the doctor, who may select the wrong dosage or enter it into an electronic prescription system incorrectly, or by the pharmacy that’s responsible for reading, interpreting, and filling your prescription with the right medication at the right strength and with the correct dosing instructions. A simple preventable medical error like a misplaced decimal can lead to you receiving medication ten times stronger or weaker than what is needed.

Faulty Medical Devices

While not necessarily an error on the practitioner’s part, manufacturers who offer medical equipment are trusted to ensure their equipment functions properly and won’t harm you. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, leading to recalls and the need for additional surgeries to correct any issues the equipment may have caused. If your provider failed to disclose the risks involved with a piece of equipment, they too could be potentially liable. If they forget to give you the information you need for fully informed consent, it may be considered a medical error.


Medical providers are supposed to operate under protocols that limit the risk of infection. From sterile tools in surgery to frequent cleaning and sanitation, but some infections are resilient. In a hospital setting, MRSA takes constant vigilance, as its resistance to antibiotics makes it both dangerous and hard to treat. Respiratory infections, like Legionnaire’s Disease, can spread quickly through care units. With more and more hospitals now rushing to contain the COVID-19 virus, diligence is needed to ensure proper quarantine so that infection can’t spread through contaminated surfaces or shared air systems.

Failure To Account For Surgical Equipment

During surgery, practitioners can use a variety of tools to work on the human body. All tools, sponges, and bandaging should be accounted for before the surgery is complete, but unfortunately, miscounts happen. Clamps, swabs, and absorbent material have been missed, leading to increased risk of infection in patients and a need to undergo another painful surgery to correct the issue.

Improper Medical Device Placement

Medical devices don’t just need to be safe and functional, they also need to be precisely positioned to alleviate a medical concern. Improperly placed stints can cut off the blood supply to areas of the body. Implantable devices can fail to function properly, leading to either a lack of therapeutic effect or life-threatening malfunction. These medical errors can be particularly devastating as they usually involve both painful procedures and large medical bills.

Talk to an Attorney if You’re Injured due to a Medical Error

If medical errors have hurt you or someone you love, you need the help of a Philadelphia malpractice attorney with experience fighting against practitioners and insurance companies that are more interested in covering their tracks.

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney who wants to hear about your case. They’ll talk to you about the specifics, let you know what kind of evidence will be needed, and what your options are to get the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages so you can rebuild your health and your financial stability.

Don’t let preventable medical errors derail your life. Contact Anapol Weiss for legal help today.