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More Deaths From Medical Errors Than Car Accidents?

More Deaths From Medical Errors Than Car Accidents?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

According to a report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, medical errors are the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. That number surpasses even the number of deaths caused by car accidents.

In 2009, the Hearst Media Corp. conducted an investigation that revealed that preventable medical mistakes and infections received while in the hospital are likely responsible for 200,000 deaths in the United States every year.

You are much more likely to hear about people dying in car accidents than to hear about a patient who died due to a doctor’s mistake. If these medical deaths were more publicized, it’s possible that we could change this trend.

Part of the problem is that there are currently no federal laws requiring hospitals to report those deaths caused by hospital error. There is no mandatory nationwide reporting system for medical errors in general, though the federal government called for these procedures to be put into place five years ago. Though the government demanded that the high number of deaths caused by medical errors and hospital infections be reduced by half, the number of both types of cases continues to rise. More patients are dying from these preventable medical errors than those who die from AIDS complications or breast cancer.

Operating on the wrong body part causes a number of patient deaths annually. Other preventable medical errors include giving the patient the wrong type of blood, the wrong medicine, incorrect doses of medicine and even leaving surgical tools inside the patient’s body. Many of these mistakes could be prevented by following strict pre-surgical guidelines, as well as pre- and post-surgery checklists.

Patients need to advocate for themselves, both before and after surgery. Check the surgeon’s medical record, go over their checklist with them, and do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions before surgery or other medical treatment.
Category: Car Accidents
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