When you’re a patient, you always trust you’re in good hands; however, even doctors and surgeons can commit medical errors. A medical error is a preventable adverse effect of care that can either be accidental or on purpose.

Continue reading to learn more about the frequency of medical errors.

How Common Are Medical Errors?

Although medical malpractice cases sound like something that only occurs on television, they’re more common than you think. They’re the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., according to research by Johns Hopkins Medicine, a research university. Worst of all, medical errors can occur in any medical setting, including clinics, surgery facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and a patient’s home.

In today’s blog, we will delve into the three leading causes of medical errors.


The leading cause of medical errors is misdiagnosis, which is when a doctor wrongfully diagnoses a condition, arrives late at diagnosis, or misses it entirely. Unfortunately, an incorrect diagnosis can result in poor treatment of the actual disease, which further harms the patient.

Therefore, it’s important to come into your doctor’s office informed about your current health and medical history. If you’re not satisfied with your doctor’s treatment or have second doubts about their diagnosis, you should consult with a second doctor.

Confusing a Patient’s Identity

If you’re unlucky enough to have your identity mixed up with another patient’s, you may end up receiving someone else’s medication. In the worst-case scenario, a surgeon may even perform the wrong surgery on you.

To prevent these severe errors, hospitals give each patient a wrist band with their name, date of birth, and a unique barcode. If you need to check into a hospital, ask your nurse to double-check your wristband before you’re given medication or undergo surgery.

Leaving Surgical Tools Inside a Patient’s Body

Most patients of surgery don’t consider they may be leaving the hospital with a foreign object inside their body. Retained surgical instruments can cause future health issues, and it may even result in death.

Typically, a surgeon uses approximately 250 surgical tools in a single procedure. During surgery, they may become difficult to track. The types of surgical instruments most commonly left inside a patient’s body include:

  • Sponges
  • Scalpels
  • Towels
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Drain tips
  • Guide wires
  • Clamps
  • Tweezers
  • Forceps
  • Scopes
  • Surgical masks
  • Measuring devices
  • Gloves

Sponges are the hardest instrument to account for because a surgeon uses them to soak up a patient’s blood during surgery, and they might blend in with organs and tissues. These incidents are most common during abdominal surgery.


Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Is Here for You

At a minimum, hospitals must provide their patients with a professional atmosphere. Medical errors are unacceptable, and if you suspect you’re a victim, you should seek compensation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can investigate the facts of the case and collect evidence to prove negligence occurred. Schedule a free case evaluation today.