Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Medical errors due to errors in processing information

Although we cannot always expect positive outcomes, patients in Wisconsin and elsewhere have the expectation that medical professionals will provide adequate care and treatment. This means that even if it is a diagnosis of a serious illness, a patient can rely on the expertise of the doctor and trust that they conducted the correct tests, read them adequately and came to a valid diagnosis. Unfortunately, this does not always occur. Mistakes could be made, causing an improper diagnosis, wrong treatment plan and even surgical errors.

Based on current estimates, medical errors account for roughly 250,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Previous research suggests that these errors are often due to the way doctors process the data they have obtained on his or her patient, meaning they have the right information but fail to act on it the best way possible. A recent study focused on the emergency department, wondering whether the medical errors experienced by patients in the emergency room were due to the frequent interruptions and often incomplete or unreliable information that doctors experience.

In this study, researchers found that doctors in the emergency department made similar errors to those doctors treating admitted patients. That is, information processing rather than errors based on inadequate knowledge or inadequate information. Information processing errors accounted for 45 percent of medical errors cases while 31 percent accounted for errors in verifying information, 18 percent accounted for inadequate information gathering and 6 percent were based on inadequate knowledge problems.

When a medical provider harms a patient, it is important to understand the cause. This information could help prove liability in a medical malpractice action. This legal claim not only places accountability on a negligent doctor but also helps with the recovery of compensation for resulting losses and damages.

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