Despite the many technological advancements nowadays, as well as the time and dedication experts have allotted for the advancement of science over the years, it is inevitable that the medical field still has major flaws. In fact, medical errors are reported to cause an estimated 250,000 deaths annually in the United States. Looking at the statistics, the risks of injury and death are utterly concerning. While health institutions try to maintain the standard of good healthcare, this begs the question: why are medical errors still being made in the industry? Here are some of the reasons:
Complex Medical System
The complexity involving the medical system starts from different root causes such as lack of healthcare coordination between health institutions and its members, the often problematic correlation between quality service and costs, and extreme variability of healthcare techniques. In addition to this are the different fields of study that doctors and healthcare professionals have to study such as pharmacology, preventive medicine, surgery, and the like. It is inevitable that healthcare and medicine are fundamentally complex concepts as these involve the welfare of the whole population which, taken individually, can be complex cases in themselves. Therefore, attempts to simplify the structure may unwittingly lead to it becoming even more complicated.
Healthcare leaders are the most responsible in terms of managing how the system works as a whole. Usually, they’re tasked to overlook a group of health institutions built with the same objectives and protocols. Nevertheless, more organizations have lists that are continuously piling up, including outpatient centers, professional service groups, employed physician groups—all of which contribute to more elements of the medical system’s naturally complex structure. The overwhelming duties of healthcare leaders to oversee all these institutions and groups can, therefore, lead to inefficient management and performance that can result in medical errors being committed.
Under-Reporting of Errors to Hospitals
As medical errors are committed in different health institutions, many doctors fail to report these errors to their hospitals, thus creating a domino effect that increases the number of medical errors that could’ve been prevented through simple awareness.
In a 2008 study by the University of Iowa, views of physicians regarding medical error reports are collected, along with the outcome that actual reporting of medical errors to hospitals occur less often that they should. The researchers pointed out the need for “a more integrated view of medical communication.” Basically, this research has discovered that 41% of the surveyed physicians only disclosed a minor medical error to their patients, and 18% informed the hospital about the minor error.
The study further shows that physicians would rather disclose the information to the patients directly as it is more meaningful compared to informing the hospital, which they think isn’t a necessity. Be that as it may, the unwillingness or failure of physicians to disclose information to the hospital’s reporting system creates gap between communication. This can lead to continued errors going unnoticed by healthcare leaders and the industry as a whole, which lessens the chances of the system being improved, both for the sake of medical professionals and patients alike.
Another root cause of medical errors can be attributed to issues and challenges faced by the patients themselves. Even while they have already been advised by their physicians about certain steps they must take in order to improve their health or alleviate their condition, some patients can remain stubborn and irresponsible about their health as soon as they find out that they have no severe health complications.
This kind of attitude among patients can lead to their condition worsening, some even experiencing irreversible effects or suffering incurable diseases that are already in their latter stages. Many patients have the tendency to blame these on their physicians, however, it cannot be denied that the improvement of the medical field doesn’t only rely on the expertise of medical professionals. People should also do their part in being a smart patient. This way, medical errors can be further prevented.
Among the causes of medical errors, studies point out that medical experts and professionals aren’t the only factors that need to be taken into consideration. There are various aspects that contribute to the errors being committed, such as fundamental healthcare issues like the inherent complexity of the medical system, the under-reporting of medical errors, and patient-related issues that may be out of a physician’s control, to name a few. Addressing these things and more can lead the medical industry one step closer to improving the system, thus minimizing medical errors.