How much do you trust your doctor? How comfortable do you feel going in for surgery? Are you confident that the medical team will give you the best possible results?

These days, people are starting to wonder, despite advances in medical science. The reason is that reports have shown just how common serious mistakes still are. In the Information Age, it's easy for statistics and stories to make the rounds, and people generally do not go to the hospital with the naive idea that the staff has such a high level of professionalism that no one will make a mistake.

A recent documentary dug into this a bit; it is called To Err Is Human, a title that echoes previous medical mistakes reports and underscores why you can never be 100 percent sure things will go the way you expect. Here are some of the findings in the film.

Reasons for mistakes

You may quickly find yourself asking why and how doctors make these errors, perhaps so that you can know what red flags to watch out for. That's not a bad place to begin. Some of the reasons that the documentary touched on include:

  • Employees in the medical facilities have poor communication habits and this miscommunication can lead to avoidable errors.
  • Many doctors and other medical workers have long shifts and suffer from fatigue that causes them to make mistakes.
  • The staff often take on "grueling shifts" that leave them feeling overworked and burned out. This can contribute to fatigue and it also wears the doctors down over time.
  • Many medical centers have a culture that tends to ignore mistakes and that allows doctors not to take accountability, which may prevent them from getting better at what they do and avoiding mistakes in the future.

The medical profession is not easy, and mistakes do happen in any industry. However, there are clearly some controllable factors that make these medical errors more common than they have to be.

What types of mistakes happen?

A mistake can happen in any setting, so you can never assume that you'll be safe based on the care you need. Even so, here are some of the common ones:

  • Making a diagnostic error
  • Delaying a diagnosis
  • Operating on the wrong site
  • Operating on the wrong person
  • Carrying out the wrong procedure
  • Ignoring clear signs that newborns are in distress
  • Making mistakes in reporting that keep important information out of a patient's files

These are just a few examples from one documentary, but they do help you understand the risks. If you do not get the care you deserve, you also need to know what legal steps you can take.