How Medical Errors Can Cause a Hemorrhage 

Debra Riley


Medical errors, unfortunately, are prone to occur in the healthcare industry. Errors can potentially occur during diagnosis, treatment, or medication management.

Regardless of when and how a medical error occurs, the patient can suffer significant or even fatal harm.

One potential medical condition caused by a medical error is a hemorrhage or excessive bleeding.

In this article, we discuss how hemorrhages are caused, potential consequences, and steps that can be taken to avoid such errors. 

If you or a loved one were harmed due to a doctor, surgeon, or other practitioner’s error, a medical malpractice attorney in Philadelphia may be able to assist with your case.

medical mistakes

What Are Medical Errors?

When a preventable mistake is made during a patient’s care and they suffer harm as a result, this is known as a “medical error.” There are several ways in which this situation can occur, from medication mistakes to surgical gaffes.

Medical errors almost always increase a patient’s risk of suffering serious or fatal harm, including hemorrhage in some cases.

While some medical errors may occur despite adherence to standard medical procedures, others occur due to a medical practitioner’s negligent actions (or lack thereof).

What is a Hemorrhage?

Hemorrhage describes excessive bleeding that can occur internally or externally. A person might experience a hemorrhage as a result of trauma, a pre-existing medical condition, or complications of a medical procedure.

Significant blood loss is a potentially life-threatening medical condition that deprives the body’s tissues and organs of oxygen. 

How Medical Errors Can Cause a Hemorrhage

While a hemorrhage can occur in many different ways, some specific mistakes make them more likely to happen:

  • Surgical Errors: During surgery, mistakes like accidentally nicking blood vessels or inadequate control of bleeding (hemostasis) can lead to hemorrhage. The patient may be harmed during the actual surgery or the postoperative period. 
  • Medication Errors: Errors related to medication, particularly anticoagulants (blood thinners), can increase the risk of bleeding. A patient may be prescribed the wrong medication, given the incorrect dosage, or suffer adverse effects that could have been prevented by effective monitoring. 
  • Diagnostic Errors: If a patient is misdiagnosed or never receives a diagnosis at all, internal bleeding may go untreated. At the same time, inadequate monitoring of patients at risk of hemorrhage can cause delayed detection of bleeding. For example, patients who have recently undergone surgery or are taking blood thinners should be considered at high risk of internal bleeding and monitored accordingly. 
error sign

A Hemorrhage Can Have Serious Consequences

The severity of a hemorrhage caused by a medical error varies. Mild bleeding may require minimal intervention but a severe hemorrhage can cause hemorrhagic shock, where the heart is unable to pump enough blood through the body. 

Even if not life-threatening, a hemorrhage can have serious consequences. The victim may suffer organ damage caused by a lack of oxygen, increased risk of infection, and anemia.

Additional surgeries or medical interventions might be needed to get the bleeding under control and address any additional complications. 

medical legal issues

Prevention of Medical Errors and Hemorrhage

Fortunately, some steps can be taken to reduce the risk of a hemorrhage caused by medical errors:

  • Enhanced Safety Protocols: By implementing comprehensive safety protocols, healthcare institutions reduce the risk of serious errors. Hospitals, surgical centers, and other medical centers should have thorough preoperative assessments, standardized procedures, and clear communication among healthcare workers to ensure information does not get lost in transit.
  • Patient Advocacy and Awareness: Although patients should not be expected to be experts in the field of medicine, they can nonetheless play a crucial role in their own safety. When seeking medical care, patients should feel comfortable asking questions, gain an understanding of their medical plan, seek a second opinion if they feel it is needed, and be an active participant in healthcare decisions. 

By working together, healthcare providers and patients can minimize the risk of an error occurring that causes any form of injury, including a hemorrhage.