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Medical malpractice: preventable medical deaths hit record high

When thinking about death, Pennsylvanians may often think about fatal accidents and illnesses like cancer and heart disease. While the two diseases do top the charts in terms of causing deaths in this country, the third leading cause can be quite surprising: medical errors. Medical errors may not only cause health complications, but they can also cost them their lives. The more disturbing fact is that such medical errors are very much preventable.

In a hearing with the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, it was revealed that avoidable medical mistakes were the third leading reason of deaths in the country. Only heart disease and cancer incurred more deaths than medical errors. Because of the medical errors, around 400,000 lives are lost annually. That equates to over 1,000 fatalities each day. However, there is more to these disturbing statistics. More than 10,000 patients suffer from serious complications on a daily basis because of medical negligence.

To address the problem, several recommendations were proposed, including adding more nurses to hospitals. Another recommendation that has garnered a lot of attention is the improvement of information technology when it comes to medical data. More technologically advanced medical data could mean less diagnosis failures and delayed diagnosis. Better technology could also help designate the proper tests for patients follow up exams and managing test results. Technology is also less likely to be prone to human error.

As the issue about preventable medical mistakes heats up, Pennsylvanians should be on the alert. Families, who have lost a loved one because of what they suspect is medical malpractice may choose to file a legal action. However, before doing so, it is important that they consult with an experienced legal advocate in order to determine the statue of limitations as well as the merits of a lawsuit and other important legal matters.

Source: Health Care IT News, "Deaths by medical mistakes hit records," Erin McCann, July 18, 2014

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