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Medical mistakes cost thousands of lives annually, study says

We have all heard stories in the Illinois news media about otherwise preventable medical mistakes that worsened the patient's condition causing them undue pain and suffering or even costing them their lives. In fact, a new study reported that medical mistakes in health care facilities and hospitals result in 251,000 deaths annually, making it the third highest cause of fatalities in the nation. To break this down, this calculation amounts to about 700 fatalities daily -- that is, 9.5 of all fatalities each year.

Medical mistakes included a wide range of behaviors from incompetent physicians to issues with communication when an individual is transferred between departments. Although most medical providers claim to have safety protocols in place, the public isn't often informed of cases were patients were harmed by medical mistakes.

In fact, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects information from medical facility billing codes about fatalities in their facilities, the CDC doesn't mandate that medical facilities report mistakes that lead to the fatalities. According to the researcher at the head of the study, the CDC should make it mandatory for physicians to report to the agency if a medical mistake lead to a fatality that could have been prevented. That researcher claims that the first step to resolving the issue is measuring it at a national level.

Whether it is a wrong-site surgery, the wrong medication given or a misdiagnosis, these sobering statistics show that the problem of medical mistakes is only growing worse. Individuals who have been victims of medical malpractice may want to research whether they have any available options for legal compensation.

Source: The Washington Post, "Researchers: Medical errors now third leading cause of death in United States," Ariana Eunjing Cha, May 3, 2016

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