The Four Most Common Medical Errors

Knowledge is power.  At Tavss Fletcher our attorneys and staff believe that the more you know the better you can protect yourself from some of the most common medical mistakes.  This article is intended as a guide to the four most common medical errors.  The list, compiled by Newsweek and based on data from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, encompasses the primary ways people are injured and killed by medical harm.

  • 1. Medication Errors- While the vast majority of adults in the United States use over-the-counter, prescription medication or dietary supplements on a daily basis many would be shocked to know that these drugs, meant to help, actually injure 1.5 million people a year. The Institute of Medicine lists the top causes of medication error as: confusion of similar drug names, computer and human error and mistakes caused by messy handwriting. The Institute recommends that all patients keep an up to date list of current medications and their doses and have it reviewed by their doctor regularly.
  • 2. Poor Doctor-Patient Communication- This serious error, usually caused by a physician not ordering enough tests or not communicating the results properly, is a leading cause of medical error. The Institute of Medicine estimates that only half of the procedures and tests needed are ordered for patients. To protect yourself from these errors, which include failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis, it is recommended that you follow up on tests with your doctor and keep a copy of your file with extra copies of lab reports, test results and prescriptions.
  • 3. Hospital Errors- These serious errors include bed sores, falls, hospital acquired infections and failure to help patients in distress. The mistakes occur when hospital staff members fail to ensure the safety of their patients. One of the most effective ways to prevent these errors is to ensure that a family member or patient advocate is on hand at all times to stay alert for medication errors, falls or deteriorating conditions.
  • 4. Surgical Errors- Surgical errors are among the most frightening to those in need of surgery. The majority of preventable surgical errors occur when a patient is given the wrong blood type, the incorrect amount of anesthesia or an administrative error occurs. Administrative errors can mean that a patient is operated on in the wrong area or for the wrong condition. Examples include bypassing the incorrect artery or operating on the left foot instead of the right. Patients are encouraged to discuss the operation in detail with the surgeon and to have the surgical site marked with a permanent marker.


If you have suffered from a medical error you already know the terrible repercussions a medical mistake can have.  Losing a child, parent or spouse because of a doctor or hospitals negligence leaves you filled with grief and anger.  If you believe that you have a medical malpractice case please contact your Virginia personal injury attorneys at Tavss Fletcher today.  Our experienced, compassionate attorneys  will do our best to help you recover both emotionally and financially after a medical error.