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Let’s Save Lives – Learning from Our Mistakes

Submitted by on August 5, 2012 – 1:30 AM

Every day the newspapers and news channels are plastered with the tales on medical errors which are quite preventable.  Be it operation of a wrong limb of a child or be it the blood transfusion of totally different person.

Medicine is a profession which is an integral part for every individual’s life regardless of one’s occupation or economic status. Due to this immense intertwined relationship, in the field of medicine we have to minimize the number of mishaps occurring in order to save millions of innocent lives. Keeping the current situation of health care system of our country in mind, it is appalling to witness that hardly any measures are being taken against these life taking errors.



Simplest technique to avoid any such error is to take a good history from the patient; if anything is missed it may result to be most important part of the treatment plan… As in the case of any drug allergy like penicillin, patient will immediately go into an anaphylactic shock that may result in a potentially life threatening situation. Similarly while prescribing any medications, if doctors pay attention to simple details while writing down the exact dosage according to the patient’s requirements like giving a full adult dose to a child is obviously going to result in a devastating circumstance for the child, can easily be prevented. Same history taking mistake or lack of doctor’s attention lead to operation on wrong limbs or on totally wrong patient!!! This can be avoided by recording the appropriate details of each individual and by checking and rechecking it before giving any medication; performing surgery or even blood transfusion!!!



Taking into account the discrepancies in the data found at the hospitals may involve the irresponsibility of the paramedical staff, who didn’t collect the important information of any individual needed for any tests. Like while taking the blood sample for any test, not labeling it properly or taking the wrong sample for a totally wrong test or using a wrong technique can be hazardous to the patient. Similarly not maintaining the required medical parameter charts for prognosis analysis may not lead to full fledged response of the patient even if given the right treatment.



Major tragic situations regarding inappropriate use of medicines can easily be prevented by looking for the expired dates of the drugs and taking into consideration the formulation of the drugs. Every medical practitioner should go for the best standard of medicine, providing the highest level of health care to the common man. Making mistake or reaching a wrong diagnosis is not the issue. Being humans it’s pretty normal to commit mistakes. It simply depends on how you respond to them and what you intend to do in order to minimize them so they won’t occur in the future.



In a nutshell, it just takes simple and very basic rules of practicing with caution and total vigilance while dealing with any medical situation to prevent trivial medical errors. This could help save millions of lives who lost the battle of life over nothing rather than for mere carelessness.


About the Author: Nayyab Zehra is a medical student from Army Medical College, Islamabad, Pakistan . She aims to work for the provision of  health care for the underprivileged. She can be reached at: [email protected]


About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2012 for the theme: Learning from Medical Errors.

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