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Medical errors the nation’s third-most common cause of death

When something ails you or makes you feel unlike yourself, you likely place a call to your doctor hoping he or she will tell you what is wrong and what you can do to make it better. Chances are, you then follow your doctor’s recommendations, and with any luck, your symptoms begin to subside.

Unfortunately, however, doctors, like everyone else, sometimes make errors. Others who make their living in health care settings, such as nurses, aides and pharmacy technicians, often do the same. The stakes are particularly high, however, when doctors and other health care workers make mistakes, as their errors can have a sizable impact on the chances of your condition improving. For example, if you have cancer and your doctor fails to notice or identify your condition until later down the line, this delayed diagnosis could potentially mean the difference between making a recovery and succumbing to the disease.

Common forms of medical mistakes

While delayed diagnoses are one common form of medical error, some doctors make mistakes by completely misdiagnosing a particular condition. When this happens, it may mean you end up undergoing unnecessary procedures or treatments, which can place you at risk for other problems and potential complications.

Medication mix-ups and medication dosing errors are also common forms of medical mistakes. Serious complications can result when, for example, someone administers you a medication meant for someone else. Medication dosing errors, or administering too much or not enough medication, can also potentially lead to serious complications. This may prove particularly likely when patients undergo treatment using anesthesia.

When doctors make mistakes, it can, at best, cost you financially, and at worst, cost you your health and wellbeing. Anytime you suspect your doctor or health care professional may be incorrect or uninformed, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion from someone at a separate medical practice.

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