Error in medicine

Error Factors in Medicine

Error is present in each and every range of human activities. As human beings, we are bound to make mistakes and what we first need to understand is that they exist, that they are part of our lives. If we acknowledge this – we can research into the causes that can lead to error, and also into its consequences, thus enabling ourselves to at least limit the gravity of its effects.

The consequences of an error vary according to the domain of activity in which it occurs.

The medical error does not have more serious consequences than the error in other fields but it presents a higher degree of ‘sensitivity’ and of course a higher mediatization.

The latter statement can provoke controversies - but let us give it some thought and draw a comparison:

- error occurs in transports: the mistake made by the driver of a vehicle can endanger in a single day more lives than the medical check-ups carried out by a health care provider in one day; the same applies to constructions and I do not think there is a field limit.

- you can imagine the most terrible mistake - in your own domain of activity – compare it with the most terrible medical error you have ever been subjected to. You will realize that it can be worse.

The causes of the medical error – in (romanian medical practice) as far as we have identified all of them (the list remains open):

Lack of communication between physician - patient;

Causes which pertain to the health care provider / medical personnel:

- lack of knowledge or temporary memory slips – these can be extremely easily compensated for by referring the patient to the speciality colleague or to the one with a superior professional experience.

- tiredness, overwork, stress – the most frequent cause of the medical error;

- lack of interest (romanian practice)– the medical personnel has been “demotivated” with an almost diabolical persistence from 1945 and up to the present day – I draw your attention to the fact that if in 1990 the entrance mark to a medical university was B+, at present D will suffice – but one can also do without a mark. The situation seems to be getting better, but this is only the beginning.

Causes which pertain to the Sanitary System’s structure:

- lack of necessary equipment (romanian practice) – caused by lack of money – which are triggered by the economic situation and which is aggravated by other extremely numerous factors.

- internal regulations known by the professionals but which are unknown to the patient – who thinks that his problem is uselessly “prolonged”; the explanations he receives are not understandable – and some of them have actually no meaning.

Causes which are linked to the patient:

- lack of patience – I don’t know why, but lack of patience becomes manifest first of all at the consulting room door. One may think that we are dealing here with the ill person; but paradoxically NO – we are dealing here especially with patients with administrative issues (those who need a document) and who completely “forget” about the other patients’ time, who are still waiting.

- the demanding patient – is the one who has “absolutely all the rights” and who wishes to impose these in front of the physician – who is supposed to meet his demands, regardless of their immorality, illegality or their frequently unmedical character.

All these causes tend to (usually) occur together.

Last update: December, 2014

Gabriel Panait MD



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