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Understanding medical errors in Arizona

Residents in Arizona may benefit from learning more about how adverse events from medical treatment are monitored and managed in the health care industry. For some time, many have ultimately viewed complications from treatment, adverse events and medical errors all as one in the same. However, more astute physicians have noted that adverse effects caused by treatment complications differ substantially from those caused by medical error.

Ideally, adverse effects caused by a medical error should be a rarity. These types of events are typically preventable and should be nonrecurring. Two of most common medical errors that occur in surgeries include the patient retaining a medical instrument or sponge after the procedure and operating on the wrong site. In contrast, adverse events arising from treatment complications are often unavoidable. One of the most common examples of these events include a patient suffering a wound infection post-surgery, despite the lack of any apparent risk factors.

Other treatment complications may include a myocardial infarction or deep vein thrombosis post-surgery, lacking any obvious health risks. The major difference between these events hinges on whether physicians and staff took all the appropriate measures that any reasonable medical professional would take to reduce a patient's health risks during a similar operation. Some treatment complications may be inevitable, but physicians are responsible for taking measures to reduce the risk of contributing errors. The three main catalysts for medical error are fatigue, wrong-site surgery and inadequate training.

Patients who suffer an injury due to doctor error may benefit from speaking with a lawyer about filing a medical malpractice claim. Depending on the circumstances that led to the injury, the practicing physician, hospital staff and medical facility may all be held responsible for the resulting damages. Legal counsel may be effective in investigating the incident and assessing the most appropriate course of action moving forward.

Source: AAOS, "Patient safety means patients first", James H. Herndon, MD, MBA, September 03, 2014

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