Why Don’t We Talk About Medical Errors?

Medical errors occur more often than we’d all like to believe. From the heart of a chaotic E.R. to the recesses of a chilly operating room, there are doctors, interns, surgeons, nurses, x-ray techs, and other medical professionals learning, making mistakes, and ideally learning from those mistakes. All professionals—even medical professionals—are human, after all. Every doctor and nurse has a story to tell regarding a moment of error or regret.

In the best scenarios, these learning mistakes are caught well ahead of time and the patients don’t suffer. In the worst, lifelong complications, illnesses, side effects from a misdiagnosis, or even death may result. These are the scenarios that cause the most harm. If the staff member doesn’t know they made the mistake, the results can be even more detrimental. That professional will continue practicing medicine without realizing they could have cost a patient their life.

On the patient side, one of the actions U.S. citizens can take against medical professionals who make mistakes due to careless behaviors or negligence is filing a medical malpractice claim. To most professionals in the medical field, the threat of getting a malpractice claim is scary—both for financial reasons and for the sake of their careers and reputations. This threat helps hold doctors and staff members accountable for mistakes that may happen which could have been prevented.

But what about actions medical professionals can take to avoid dangerous errors? Proper and thorough training, of course, can help, as well as adequate staffing procedures that help doctors and nurses from becoming overworked and overstressed. But what other measures can professionals take to prevent mistakes from happening?

One doctor offers their excellent opinion on STAT, a publication for and by medical professionals. The author’s suggestion is simple, yet one that many don’t consider: Communication. There is currently a negative stigma against errors in the medical field. Most do not talk about mistakes they make, nor do they discuss ways in which those mistakes can be avoided. Errors get carried around with shame, regret, and a great deal of emotional baggage. This makes it almost impossible to learn from said mistakes.

Why don’t we talk about medical errors? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand the reasoning behind the stigma. No one wants to admit they almost lost a patient or caused a patient to have an amputation to their peers. No one wants to say they screwed up and must pay a malpractice settlement. However, if errors were discussed in a safe, non-judgmental environment between peers, the medical community may rise above the shame and find innovative ways to stop errors from occurring.

The medical industry is one that flourishes when innovation helps guide decisions. Every day, pioneers in the industry are finding new ways of treating debilitating diseases and making patients comfortable. Every day, professionals working in the industry should make an effort to approach their work with innovation and progress in mind. Forward thinking can propel the industry forward in surprising—and good—ways.

There’s also the fact that when a doctor or technician carries about their work with shame and regret in the back of their mind, they won’t perform to the best of their abilities. The medical profession is one we can’t afford to cut corners in. And that fact, essentially, is why medical malpractice claims exist. When we hold hospitals and doctor’s offices accountable for poor hiring procedures, poor staffing policies, or poor training methods, we protect ourselves and our family members when they must depend on medical services nationwide.

If you or someone you love was seriously injured or experience permanent damage due to a medical error that could have been avoided or occurred due to negligence, you deserve peace of mind and the knowledge that our medical professionals know they can do better. Georgia residents, contact Bey & Associates to learn how to achieve that peace of mind. Our law firm can pair you with an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer who can show you how.

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