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Medical mistakes

Overworked, Sleep-Deprived Surgeons and Doctors Blunder Through Patient Procedures

Monday, October 05, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: medical mistakes, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) Medical staff in the United Kingdom committed 4,000 avoidable medical errors in 2008, according to a review conducted by the newspaper Daily Mirror.

Based on a review of medical records acquired through a Freedom of Information request, the paper catalogued 4,000 mistakes at just the hospitals that actually provided information. Only 97 of 172 National Health Service trusts in the country responded to the papers' requests, and of those most provided no details about the errors. In many cases, fatal mistakes were simply reported as "unexplained deaths."

According to the newspaper's analysis, more than 50 percent of the errors -- 2,221 -- resulted in injuries, deaths or severe pain. Mistakes included surgeries being carried out on the wrong side of the body, incorrect diagnoses and prescriptions for dangerous doses of drugs. In one case, a patient was killed when an improperly inserted chest drain punctured his heart. In another, medical staff accidentally dislodged a tube from a patient's windpipe, contributing to a fatal heart attack.

The Patients' Association said that all the mistakes catalogued in the study could have been avoided.

According to Peter Carter of the Royal College of Nursing, the biggest contributor to medical errors is staff shortages. Overworked medical staff, scrambling to cover the workload of two or three, are much more likely to make mistakes.

"It is always deeply concerning to learn of any mistakes which have endangered the life of a patient," Carter said. "But the fewer staff there are the more mistakes are made."

According to a report recently published by the U.K. Healthcare Commission, the country is in need of a coherent, unified error-reporting system. According to the commission, different health trusts vary widely in the degree to which they prioritize patient safety.

The report estimates that one in 10 hospital patients are harmed by a medical error, and that an error occurs in five to 80 out of every 100,000 doctor visits.

Sources for this story include: www.telegraph.co.uk.

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