Common Mistakes Doctors Make That Often Kill Real People

Whether it’s a routine appointment or a visit with a surgeon, you trust you’re in good hands with medical personnel. Doctors are human too, however — and mistakes do happen. NPR reports on a study that says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death.

So, what can go wrong when you’re in a doctor’s care? Everything from mixing up medications to unrecognized complications during surgery have occurred in the past. And some of these mistakes have even killed.

1. Operating on the wrong patient

Close-up of surgeons hands holding surgical scissors and passing surgical equipment , motion blur background.

We can’t imagine a worse nightmare. | iStock.com/xmee

The New York Times describes a specific scenario involving two patients with very similar names. The wrong patient was told it was time for her procedure to begin, even though she said she was never told about the surgery. The nurse insisted anyway, and the wrong woman was wheeled back. Eventually, the mix-up was discovered — but it was after the doctors started the invasive procedure.

The woman who was wrongfully operated on recovered fully. But it was the negligence, poor communication, and possible fatigue from long work hours that made this scenario possible.

Next: This Johns Hopkins doctor made a bad call for a man with a breathing tube. 

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