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Reports point to painful and costly reality of medical errors

Recent reports show that the United States has a serious problem with medical errors. They happen every single day, often with catastrophic results. These errors are in large part caused by miscommunication among doctors, hospital staff and pharmacists, with medication errors being the most common types of mistakes.

In fact, medical errors annually cost the United States over $17 billion and caused the death of over 250,000 people. And those are just the errors that have been confirmed. As one doctor recently put it on CNN, "Mistakes are happening every day in every hospital in the country that we're just not catching."

It's estimated that each year over 1.5 million individuals suffer as a result of medication errors, and it costs roughly $3.5 billion per year to treat drug-related injuries. That dollar amount doesn't even account for the lost wages and loss of economic productivity, nor does any dollar amount clearly indicate the pain and suffering each victim of a medication error experiences.

In terms of surgical errors, the physical problems that most commonly result are pressure ulcers. These ulcers come about because of post-operative infections. Post-surgery back pain is also very common.

In a press release from the National Academy of Sciences, the dean of the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina had this to say: "We need a comprehensive approach to reducing these errors that involves not just health care organizations and federal agencies, but the industry and consumers as well."

One way for patients and consumers to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for medical errors is to take civil action in the form of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Such lawsuits can ensure that justice is served as well as help victims receive the healthcare and compensation they need.

Source: VOXXI, "Medical errors costing the nation lives and $17B annually," Hope Gillette, Jan. 22, 2013

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