The global pandemic has changed the way in which virtually every aspect of our lives runs. The ways we work, socialize and educate our children have all been dramatically altered. As the healthcare system has been forced to adapt to a growing number of COVID-19 patients, it has impacted how other patients – with non-critical medical concerns – are being treated.
According to experts, this situation could lead to an increase in medical errors:
Over the course of the pandemic, many healthcare facilities were forced to have in-person appointments for any non-Covid patient without a life-threatening condition. This led to many Americans to have to forego in-person exams – and having virtual visits or postponed doctor’s visits instead. This situation could increase the likelihood of diagnosis delays for any serious conditions.
There has also been an ongoing shortage of medical equipment over the course of the pandemic. While many medical facilities have now regained a steady supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), other equipment – such as ventilators – remain in short supply. For patients in critical condition who are not suffering from Covid-19, this could result in being denied critical medical equipment that could save their lives.
Hospitals have had to shift and reprioritize their operations over the last 18 months. In many hospitals, the all-hands-on-deck situation in Covid wards has forced doctors and nurses from other departments to jump in and help out in ICUs. The resulting understaffing in other departments leaves more room for medical error.
Although the medical community has been working tirelessly and heroically to keep our communities safe and healthy, the sad reality is that in a prolonged state of emergency, mistakes may be more likely to happen. This is just one of the many unforeseen consequences of this pandemic.