John J. Hopkins & Associates

Is there such a thing as a nonharmful medical error?

There are countless errors made every day by doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals. Some of these are obviously more injurious than others. Failure to diagnose a life-threatening illness may be fatal, for example. There are other supposedly innocuous errors, however, that are often called nonharmful errors. It is worth wondering, however, whether any medical error can truly be harmless.

According to Medscape, 37 percent of physicians responding to a survey indicated they may be comfortable hiding an error if they believed it would not cause their patient harm. There are several reasons this statistic should give pause to patients who are receiving a medical treatment of any kind.

Potential harm may be unknown

The supposition that an error is nonharmful relies on a medical professional’s full and complete knowledge of your medical history. This is an impossible task, and no matter how innocuous an error might seem, it always holds the potential to inflict harm. Because doctors cannot predict a patient’s individual reaction, they cannot fairly call an error nonharmful with completed confidence.

You have a right to know about errors

At the end of the day, you have the right to know about the medical treatment you receive. Whether an error is made during surgery or in diagnosis, your provider has an obligation to tell you about it. When medical professionals conceal any part of your treatment, you cannot make informed choices about your health care, and this in and of itself is clearly harmful.

Negligence can cause serious errors

Any error — no matter how minor — is indicative of negligence. If doctors make a supposedly, it stands to reason that there might be bigger problems to worry about as well. You should be concerned about any evidence that your medical provider may have been negligent when treating you, and this even includes errors that might be considered nonharmful, too.

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ALTON —Like any successful trial lawyer, John Hopkins knows the importance of preparation. But he usually doesn’t write out the questions he plans to ask witnesses in depositions or in court.

“I like to react to what the witness is saying—not only what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it,” Hopkins says.

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John J. Hopkins & Associates
500 6th Street
Alton, IL 62002

Toll Free: 888-779-6064
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