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Report: Medical mistakes third highest cause of death

There have been numerous studies conducted recently to try and understand how serious of a problem medical errors are in hospitals across the country. Some estimates suggest that as many 440,000 people die every year due to a preventable error, while others estimate that number is closer to 100,000. The exact number of fatalities linked to a medical mistake is difficult to confirm, but researchers generally agree that it is a very serious problem.

In fact, according to the founder of Patient Safety America, which is a group dedicated to educating patients about hospital safety, hospital errors come after only cancer and heart disease in terms of the leading causes of death. This is a devastating statistic and it should serve as a strong reminder to patients across Atlanta that mistakes can and do happen; they should also remember that they have the right to hold these facilities accountable if a mistake does happen.

Many patients and families take legal action after a medical error has resulted in injury, illness or death. Not only do these people want the compensation that they deserve, but they are also seeking some accountability on the part of a facility or doctor. With accountability comes an understanding of what went wrong, and that can often result in an active search for a solution to prevent a similar mistake from happening again. 

ConsumerReports.org recently released their hospital safety scores after analyzing more than 2,590 hospitals across the country and scoring them on patient safety. Those that received the highest scores were hospitals that take proactive approaches to keeping people safe. They focus on small things, like washing hands, and also on larger issues, like proper procedures for preventing infections. Unfortunately, only 35 facilities were in the top-scoring bracket for medical patients and 173 received a top score for surgical patients.

Patients and their families deserve to receive a standard level of care in any hospital. Those facilities that fail to provide this care should take responsibility for their actions and take meaningful steps to prevent the mistake from happening to someone else. One effective way of ensuring that this happens is to hold a negligent party accountable with a lawsuit. Not only can legal action prompt facilities to fix broken systems and address issues, it can also help victims get the compensation they need to recover from medical malpractice.

Source: ConsumerReports.org, "Survive your hospital stay," March 2014

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