From emergency rooms to homes for long-term care, clinics, hospitals and other treatment facilities provide essential services for individuals at every stage of life. Unfortunately, these places of healing may also pose unexpected health risks. Prescription errors, faulty equipment and mistakes during surgical procedures are just a few of the ways in which health care providers may put patients at risk.

According to a recent Johns Hopkins Medicine study, medical oversights account for more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. While many people immediately associate “medical malpractice” with cases of gross negligence during a critical procedure, errors by physicians or staff before, during or after treatment may also lead to potentially serious health outcomes.

Misdiagnosis

Following surgical error, the failure to make an accurate diagnosis in a timely fashion is one of the most common sources of medical malpractice claims. In addition to potentially preventing patients from taking advantage of an early treatment window, a delayed or mistaken diagnosis may lead to prescribing inappropriate medications or procedures that could worsen an existing condition.

Prescription errors

From disregarding a patient’s medical history or failing to anticipate a hazardous drug interaction to prescribing inappropriate amounts of a medication, physician prescription errors may also pose serious health risks. Nurses, pharmacists and other caregivers may also mistakenly dispense the wrong type of medication to the wrong patient.

Ignoring follow-up care

Whether through carelessness, over-scheduling or other issues, doctors may also fail in providing a reasonable standard of care by releasing a patient too early, neglecting to recommend follow-up appointments or ignoring the need for ongoing care.

Recovering costly medical expenses

Physicians, nurses and other health care staff who act negligently may prevent a patient’s recovery or even make an existing condition worse. Those facing mounting medical expenses as a result of such negligence may be able to recover costs by pursuing a medical malpractice claim.