gavel and stethoscope representing medical malpracticeTragic accidents can happen whenever human error is a possibility, and researchers are always working to prevent these kinds of accidents. Some accident prevention techniques address specific problems, but other strategies may be applicable across many different disciplines. For example, researchers at the University of North Carolina have used techniques from Normal Accident Theory, which is used to prevent nuclear and aviation accidents, to also prevent clinical oncology mistakes.

Applying Normal Accident Theory to Cancer Patient Safety

Dr. Charles Perrow developed Normal Accident Theory (NAT) as a way of recognizing and lowering accident risks in non-healthcare settings that involve multiple systems. Clinical oncology often involves coordination among different doctors, and it is an “interactively complex and tightly coupled” discipline. Accordingly, some NAT strategies that could prevent chemotherapy and radiation overdoses for oncology patients include:

  • Standardizing procedures to reduce the likelihood of errors
  • Monitoring how the system works to catch the mistakes that occur
  • Having criteria in place that force a temporary stop in treatment to prevent the wrong drug or dosage from reaching a patient

Normal Accident Theory may not prevent all chemotherapy and radiation mistakes. However, together, these and other strategies may reduce the complexity of oncology and help keep patients safe from cancer medication mistakes.

What This Means for You as a Cancer Patient

Kentucky hospitals and outpatient clinics may not use Normal Accident Theory to prevent oncology mistakes; however, they are required to use reasonable care to prevent human error. If you are suffering from a chemotherapy or radiation overdose, or any other form of medical malpractice, you can hold the liable party responsible.

If you have been harmed by a cancer treatment mistake, we encourage you to contact our Kentucky cancer treatment injury lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible. We will find out exactly what happened to you, why it happened, and whether medical negligence was to blame for your injury. Call us or fill out our online contact form today to learn more.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky
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