Death is inevitable, you can run but you can never hide. However each year numerous people die in hospitals due to medical errors. Medical errors can occur due to the failure of the health care system in hospitals, surgical centers, patients’ homes, clinics and nursing homes. The error can vary from surgical error, medicines, lab reports or the equipment. These errors are not intentional thus the doctors are not punished or threatened with their license in any form. The forensic medicine departments of Saudi Arabia estimated 137 deaths in 2014 as a result of medical errors and 11 people die each month due to medical negligence. The tiniest of thing which is part of the hospital routine can cause these deaths like a patient being given high-salt meal instead of salt free meals. A major reason which contributes to these deaths is the miscommunication between the patient and the doctor.
Reports suggest that 44percent of the deaths were contributed by Riyadh having 58 cases, Eastern Province having 46, Madinah having 31, Jeddah having 43 and Jazan having only 3 cases of medical mistakes. Majority of the mistakes were done by the nurses who were either not given proper instructions by the doctors or they lacked following up on the cases and post-op care. However the negligence of the doctors cannot be disregarded, over 100 deaths took place due to their negligence and almost 50% of these medical errors were due to the lack of experience of the doctors. These errors do not always lead to patient death but also leaves them with permanent disabilities.
There are several costs associated with these errors for the family of the patient left dead or handicapped and also for the hospital. In the UK, according to a study the medical errors exceed 850,000 each year costing around 2 billion pounds. Hospitals need proper check and balance to eliminate these errors, this not only benefits then in the long run but it is ethically incorrect to leave someone with permanent damage or to take someone’s life due to reasons which could be avoided.
In terms of medicine, several steps can be taken to avoid medical errors. We can ensure all doctors we consult know the medicines we have taken or are currently take, the doctors must be told of any allergies and reactions patients might have to certain medicines, patients should double check and ask doctors about the medicines being prescribed and at the pharmacy, double check if you’ve taken the correct medicines and ask for help.
In terms of the hospital, nurses and staff members should be sanitized at all times during their contact with the patient, they should have protective wear on at all times. And lastly during the surgery, the surgeon should not take up a case he is not comfortable with as it puts the patient at risk.
Source: Arab News
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