Typos, error-prone abbreviations can have catastrophic outcomes

Specificity and accuracy are critical components of practicing medicine. Everything from a surgical procedure to a patient prescription depends on precise measurements and instructions.

Medicine is also an incredibly complex field. And medical workers are often under incredible pressure to meet deadlines and tend to as many patients as possible. As a result, it is not uncommon for mistakes to occur when it comes to making, reading or translating medical information. These mistakes -- even a seemingly small typo -- can have a catastrophic impact on patients.

Particularly problematic situations

So much of a patient's care stems from their medical records. Doctors utilize this information to spot trends, identify safe medications and diagnose conditions. As such, if there is an inaccuracy in a person's medical record or information missing altogether, doctors are not working with the best information. This can lead to misdiagnoses or medication errors.

Problems can also arise when materials are mislabeled. Medication in the hospital, prescriptions at home, tests, patient records and samples must all have accurate labels affixed. Those that do not can be mixed up or improperly administered, leaving patients vulnerable to serious medical consequences.

Lost in translation

Whether a doctor hand writes notes, makes a recording or enters information into a computer, there is at least some risk of bad translations leading to medical errors.

In some cases, doctor's notes are simply illegible. Nurses, physicians and other medical workers can easily misread something that looks like it says something else.

There are also error-prone abbreviations medical workers should always avoid. Those abbreviations, which can be found here, can lead to confusion, like whether a person should take medication daily or four times a day.

Clarity, correctness, consistency

Medical information is crucial to patient care. As such, all the information that medical workers share, record and review must be clear, accurate and in line with industry standards.

If this does not happen and a patient suffers damages as a result, the injured party or his or her family may have grounds to seek legal action.

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