Most Common Medical Errors

A woman is holding her hand up, refusing medication from a doctor.

The most common medical errors cause thousands of instances of medical malpractice each year. Medical errors can prevent a patient from getting the treatment that they need. They can also cause additional health complications.

As a patient, it’s essential to recognize the most common forms of medical errors. If you’re the victim of a medical mistake, you may deserve financial compensation. 

Most common medical errors

The most common medical errors include the following:

Misdiagnosis – There are many reasons why a misdiagnosis can occur. A health care provider may not ask the right questions or order the proper tests. The consequence can be a misdiagnosis, which results in harm to the patient.

Delayed diagnosis – Even if a diagnosis is accurate, healthcare providers must make the diagnosis in a reasonable amount of time. Delayed diagnosis occurs when a care provider has the information available at their disposal to make the correct diagnosis earlier, or when they could have had the information available if they had taken the right steps.

Medication error – Getting the proper medication is a critical part of any care plan. Medication mistakes occur because of transcribing errors, failure on the part of the health care professional to read carefully, or not asking the right questions about drug interactions. All patients need the right medication in the correct doses to have successful treatment. Medication errors may include giving too much medication or not enough medication. Providers should know when it’s appropriate to prescribe medication. They should also know how to evaluate the risks associated with giving or refusing a medication so that they can provide their patient with the best possible care.

Infection – Infection is a serious risk in any kind of clinical setting. Providers must take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of infection.

Bad medical devices – When a medical device malfunctions, harm can come to a patient.

Wrong records/wrong patient – Carelessness can lead to reading the wrong records and giving treatment to the wrong patient. Too often, a failure to work deliberately and cautiously can lead to serious consequences for patients who don’t receive the treatment that they need because of a patient mix-up.

Failure to instruct a patient for self-care – When a patient leaves medical care, they need to know how to take care of their injuries and illnesses. An essential part of medical care is instruction for self-care after leaving treatment. Not giving patients the information that they need to help themselves is a form of medical error.

Falls – The risk of falling is a serious problem for many people with an illness or injury. The dangers of falling should be addressed for each patient. Care providers should put a safety plan into place to lessen the risk of falling.

Discharging from care too quickly – One of the goals of in-hospital care is to minimize the risk of readmission. It’s vital to ensure that patients are fit to be discharged so that they don’t need to return to the hospital for the same course of treatment.

What is the most common contributing cause of medical errors?

The most common contributing cause of medical errors is human error. A lack of training, fatigue, or inattention can contribute to medical errors. When medical professionals do not work carefully or when they do not have the appropriate training, a medical error can occur. Although human error is the most common contributing cause of medical errors, there are a few others as well. For example:

  • Breakdown in communication: Miscommunication between healthcare providers or between providers and patients can lead to medical errors. This can include unclear instructions, incomplete medical records, and failure to convey important information.
  • Lack of training or experience: Healthcare providers who lack training or experience in a particular area may be more likely to make mistakes.
  • Patient-related factors: Patient-related factors such as language barriers, cognitive or physical impairments, and failure to adhere to treatment plans can increase the risk of medical errors.
  • Inadequate staffing: Shortages of healthcare staff can lead to rushed and incomplete care, increasing the risk of medical errors.

Medication administration errors

Medication administration errors are a serious form of medical malpractice. There are several ways that medication administration errors can occur. For example, a nurse may misinterpret a doctor’s writing or an oral directive. The person responsible for administering the medication may simply deliver the wrong kind of medication or the wrong dose.

Another way that an error may occur is because of a failure to identify or account for drug interactions. Medication administration errors can occur in many ways and cause serious harm to patients. Under these unfortunate circumstances, contacting your medical malpractice attorneys immediately is crucial.

What is the most common error that involves health care professionals when working with a patient?Types and Causes of Medication Errors From Nurse’s Viewpoint

The most common error that involves health care professionals when working with a patient is a medication prescribing error. According to the National Institutes of Health, prescribing mistakes account for approximately 46% of medical errors when working on a patient. In addition, administration errors account for another 8-25% of medical errors. Medication prescribing errors are the most common medical error that healthcare professionals make when they’re working with a patient.

Communication errors in health care

Communication errors in health care are a form of medical malpractice. There are multiple parties involved in any kind of healthcare service. Being able to share information is critical to successful treatment. When communication errors occur in health care, treatment may be delayed, or a patient may receive the wrong treatment. A mistake in communication can amount to medical malpractice if a patient suffers harm because of an error.

Medical malpractice injury attorneys

A gavel with a doctor's stethoscope on it.

An experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers can help you pursue your rights if you’re hurt due to a medical mistake. If you’re injured because of a medical error, there’s a good chance that you have a valid legal claim based on medical malpractice. The compensation that you may claim includes compensation for the cost of medical complications as well as pain and suffering. Our Denver attorneys for medical malpractice explain your rights in the event of medical malpractice.


Cheragi, M., et al. (2013). Types and Causes of Medication Errors From Nurse’s Viewpoint.

MacDowell, P., et al. (2021). Medication Administration Errors

Sameera, V., et al. (2021). Human Errors and Their Prevention in Healthcare.

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