Statistics show that death from medical errors are higher than death caused by traffic accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.
The actual number of deaths from medical errors could actually be higher than the figure quoted in the IOM (Institute of Medicine) report, say US health experts.
This is because the report failed to mention errors in other healthcare setting such as clinics, doctors's offices, nursing homes and outpatient surgical centers.
- For example, the US General Accounting Office found that at 1700 kidney dialysis facilities, 20% or more patients did not get adequate treatment for anemia, a red blood cell deficiency that is common in kidney patients. Some centres used contaminated water for dialysis or prescribed the wrong medicines for follow up care.
- In the People's Republic of China, about 80000 people die annually because of antibiotics misuse by doctors or via self-medication.
What is a medical error?
- The US FDA explains that a medical error occurs when a healthcare-provider chooses an inappropriate method of care for a patient, such as giving the patient a drug without knowing if he or she is allergic to it.
- In other cases, the healthcare-provider gives the patient the correct care but does it wrongly, such as giving a concentrated dose of a drug instead of a diluted one.
The following are among the most widely reported errors, according to the FDA and American Hospital Association:
- Wrong diagnosis
- Wrong medication
- Missing or incomplete patient information
- Wrong blood group transfusions
- Infections due to poor hygiene
- Wrong organ surgery or removal
Medical Error Cases happened in Singapore
SINGAPORE — A young doctor who administered a chemotherapy drug the wrong way, putting the patient at risk of “severe neurological damage”, has been fined S$2,000 by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).
Woman’s eyelids stuck together after pharmacy mistake
A HOUSEWIFE was prescribed a gel to soothe an eye irritation – but ended up being given dental adhesive paste instead. The mix-up by the pharmacy at National University Hospital (NUH) caused Madam Pang Har Tin’s eyelids to stick together. The 63-year-old was rushed to the accident and emergency department to have her right eye flushed out. She has since made a full recovery.
It's pointless to point fingers at doctors and nurses for medical errors. Fatigue from long working hours and staff shortage emphasises the fact that it is human to make mistakes.
We tend to think that government agencies like the FDA can regulate medical malpractices for us, there is only so much these agencies can do.
While the FDA can help to control similar-sounding drug names, for example it cannot force your doctor to wash his hands before treating your wounds.
PREVENTION IS THEREFORE THE BEST ANSWER!
The onus to prevent these errors is on us.
When we buy a car, we research all we can about the model before signing on the dotted line. When we choose a vacation or travel package, we ask every related question before buying our tickets.
So Why don't we do the same for our healthcare??
We have a mission here!!
The science of Nutritional Immunology teaches us to eat to prevent as WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!
With a nutritious diet, we can put up the first barricade against medical errors by stopping ourselves from falling ill in the first place!!
We also believe that KNOWLEDGE is POWER.
- By knowing the DANGERS of drugs and sharing what we know with loved ones, we can make better health decisions and build the confidence to ask questions. Our questions, in turn, can help doctors to prevent themselves from making mistakes.
- Using our voice not only prevents errors, but also save lives, say experts.
If you child's flu medicine looks different from her previous ones, tell your doctor even if you are embarrassed to do so. It may be the right medication or it may not.
One Wrong Tablet could kill or harm your child for life. Likewise, ask your nurse or doctor to wash his or her hands before examining you or your infant.
- If you cannot summon the courage, remember that in the year 2000, about 2610 infants died from preventable hospital infections in the US. The toll in less-developed countries could be higher.
We must realise that no one knows our health better than we do. A healthcare professional can only give us advice or information about our health.
The final decision is ours. We should be more vigilant, knowledgeable, and personally responsible for our healthcare.
Only then can we ensure that medical errors do not prematurely rob us or our loved ones of life.