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Bereaved mother leads fight against preventable medical errors

Illinois parents may have heard about a mother who lost her 11-year-old daughter to undetected respiratory arrest during routine surgery in 2002. The use of a simple monitor during the application of anesthetic could have prevented the alleged medical malpractice from ever occurring in the first place. Ten years later, she began working to get legislation passed in California so the same tragedy wouldn't happen to others.

Now the woman is pushing for parents and other loved ones to have the courage to step in and help ensure medical mistakes like this are prevented. Studies determines that as many as 400,000 hospital patients die every year from some kind of preventable harm like the kind the 11-year-old girl suffered. Although there is support for the reduction of this preventable harm, not much has been made in the way of progress against it nationwide.

It was not a surgical mistake that killed the woman's daughter, but a procedural one. Hospitals commonly have available monitoring equipment needed to make sure opioids aren't shutting down a patient's breathing, and the legislation the woman is working on would require that they be used. She believes that the monitors, which are commonly used in intensive care units, could have saved her daughter's life.

Doctor negligence isn't the only medical error that can hurt or kill patients in a hospital. In this case, an anesthesiologist's mistake of not using the proper monitoring equipment could lead to the end of a life. In cases of suspected medical malpractice, an attorney may be able to help clients reach a financial settlement in order to help cope with the loss.

Source: Forbes, "Leah's Law: A Mother's Mission to Save Lives", Robert J. Szczerba , November 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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