Hospital mistakes and medical errors have become an issue for Massachusetts residents again after several high profile cases have ended in health care providers being fined for compliance issues. One incident in particular involved a woman who had been declared brain dead, even though doctors never completed necessary tests to verify this. Even worse, in spite of a nurse reporting that the woman was breathing without a ventilator and responded to a reflex test, doctors went ahead with plans to harvest the woman’s organs. The only thing that saved the woman’s life was her opening her eyes on the operating table.

More than a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine put forth strategies that were supposed to prevent situations like the previously mentioned case along with other surgical errors. In spite of these efforts, there has been a rise instead of a decline in mistakes made by healthcare providers. According to articles published in the Journal of Participatory Medicine by Bart Windrum, medical errors are among the top 10 causes of death in hospitals.

What’s even more alarming is that it is believed that many errors made in hospitals are never recognized or recorded. A spokeswoman for the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project has pointed out that there are no systems in place to collect information about patient safety problems or medical errors made in hospitals.

Patients who are not properly cared for can end up in a worse condition than when they entered the hospital. Diagnostic, drug and surgical errors can sometimes even have fatal consequences for patients. If someone has been harmed by a medical error, a lawyer could help them understand their rights and options for legal recourse.

Source: Guardian Express, “Hospital Errors and Patient Safety Issues“, Janet Grace Ortigas, July 09, 2013