Errors of physicians [Archives:2005/869/Health]

August 18 2005

By Dr. Mohammad al-Shuja'a
For the Yemen Times

Numerous errors are often committed by physicians and nurses due to ignorance, remissness and lack of training and qualification on the part of both before and during their pursuit of the job.

It has been reported that errors committed by physicians in the U.S.A. are estimated at 18 thousand per year. Seeing such scores in a developed country, how one can imagine the situation to be in the developing countries including Yemen where health sector still suffer from several difficulties and face a variety of different challenges. Yemeni hospitals complain from a lack of medicine, equipment and well-qualified physicians, in addition to the absence of monitoring, supervision and guidance, coupled with ignorance and indifference on the part of workers in the health sector.

While we tend to reveal some of the persistent medical errors occurring beyond control and the tragic consequences they leave, there are errors associated with prescription of medicine and taking doses. In some cases, a physician, a pharmacist or a nurse is held responsible for any deterioration of performance, not doing duty in a complete way or the lack of adequate training before and after study. Due to the clinic being so crowded leading to a lack of attention and care on the part of the physician and the nurse being engaged in another work, unexpected number of errors occur at the expense of patients.

Errors of physicians fall into: errors of omission and errors of commission. The first type of errors occur due to ignorance and remissness such as prescribing medicine for patients in a wrong way, committing a mistake in the estimation of dose and the way it is taken, being late in taking medicine, non-use of suitable diagnostic means, lack of medical appliances and diagnostic devices, and the unavailability of well-qualified physicians.

Errors of commission are practical ones committed by physicians and they cause harm to patients. These errors include the use of ineffective treatment methods, undergoing a surgical operation without any justification, technical errors while performing the operation, lack of preparation before conducting the surgery, and the lack of follow-up and observation of the patient's case after the surgery.

Victims of such errors are: the patient who is subjected to any harm and sometimes loses his/her life and the clear-conscience physician who feels tortured when committing any error, and this will be negatively reflected on his professional life. A physician has to be frank with any patient when committing any erro, and the higher concerned authorities should supervise and monitor all day-to-day work of physicians and nurses in hospitals and clinics.

Who is responsible for errors of white-lab-coated people?

Up until now, there has been no any legal authority to hold physicians accountable for what they commit and for any risk or harm caused to any patient. Complaints have to be raised to the Minister of Public Health and Population and any concerned authority to suspend work of those who pursue the profession carelessly. The concerned authorities are recommended to punish those who put the patient's life at risk.

How to avoid and restrict errors of physicians?

Such errors can be avoided and restricted by: constant

– Steady education and training for physicians and nurses even after their graduation;

The concerned parties should activate monitoring and supervision on physicians and nurses;

– Making available an effective and constructive administration to perform its duties in a better way;

– Installing computer in the medical field;

– Providing training opportunities for physicians and nurses; and

– Improving living standards of physicians and nurses.