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Illinois may share in 440,000 possible medical malpractice deaths

Illinois residents may be surprised to hear that a new study suggests that as many as 440,000 patients every year ultimately die from preventable mistakes in American hospitals. Even the low end of the study's estimate -- 210,000 constitutes more than double the number of possible medical malpractice deaths reported in studies as recent as 2010. If true, that staggering figure would make medical blunders the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer as leading killers of Americans. The study's estimates were formulated by a NASA toxicologist who lost his 19-year-old son to what he claimed was hospital negligence.

The American Hospital Association responded to the report by saying it had more confidence in an earlier Institute of Medicine estimate of 98,000 deaths from potential medical malpractice. However, three prominent researchers of patient safety reviewed the toxicologist's study and praised his methods and findings as credible. Either of these estimates, or any number that doesn't rely on an actual count of patients killed by hospital errors, must by necessity be an approximation. Such estimates are imperfect, however, due to further medical mistakes: those made when recording the information in patients' records.

Nevertheless, some experts in patient safety said that the estimates were valuable because they brought awareness -- and research money -- to what was a major health problem according to every study. One expert said that the industry and the public needed to get a sense of the true magnitude of the problem if it will ever be meaningfully addressed.

The death of a loved one due to a fatal surgical error can be devastating to any Illinois family. An attorney with a solid background in helping those affected by a preventable surgical mistake may be able to help them achieve closure, pay for expenses and get on the road to recovery.

Source: Pro Publica, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?", Marshall Allen, September 19, 2013

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Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Malpractice

Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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