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Medical errors account for 400,000 U.S. hospital deaths

Illinois readers might be interested to learn that an estimated 400,000 deaths happen every year in U.S. hospitals because of medical errors, according to an article published by the Journal of Patient Safety. Some of the most common serious errors happen during surgery or post-op, or involve medication or hospital-acquired conditions. Major errors that occur during surgery include operating on the wrong part of the body, operating on the wrong person and performing the wrong operation. According to the Center for Transforming Healthcare's chief medical officer, wrong-site surgeries occur in the U.S. between 40 and 60 times every week.

The post-operative period can also be dangerous. A South Carolina woman said she lost her 15-year-old son because of negligent post-operative care by medical residents and a failure by hospital staff to follow up on the boy's condition. The woman founded Mothers Against Medical Errors in 2002. In response, South Carolina passed the Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Act, which is designed to reduce the likelihood of medical malpractice by requiring that patients be provided an emergency number they can use reach the attending doctor or other staff if a patient's situation worsens during post-op.

Medication errors and hospital-acquired conditions also contribute to the dangers of a trip to the hospital. All patients should communicate to hospital staff regarding all medications they are currently taking. Hospital staff should verify that the correct medication is being given to the correct patient.

Approximately 100,000 people die each year nationwide from infections that were acquired from health care facilities, according to a senior vice president at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Those who have been injured as a result of hospital or doctor negligence may have claims for compensation. A medical malpractice lawyer may be able to gather evidence in order to draft and file a civil action for pain and suffering and other damages on behalf of an injured client.

Source: US News & World Report, "How to Survive Your Hospital Stay", Lisa Esposito, June 03, 2014

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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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