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Medical malpractice rates and prevention efforts

No matter if they are seeking advice on healthy lifestyle choices or are receiving intensive treatment for a serious illness or disease, California residents regularly turn to doctors and other medical professionals for sound and trusted advice. Tragically, however, the medical treatment and care that some patients receive results in serious and even fatal injuries. Professional negligence and other forms of medical malpractice are startlingly high across the state and country, and are a major concern for patients and medical providers alike.

NBC Bay Area reported on California medical malpractice incident rates and reporting practices, and found that many hospitals in the state fail to accurately report and detail avoidable mistakes. Adverse events, as they are referred to in the medical field, are estimated to be the third leading cause of death in the country; however, information concerning incident details and consequences are inconsistent and lacking in many cases. While some experts argue that actual incident rates are much higher than reported figures, data suggests that well over 6,000 adverse events occurred in California over the past several years.

According to California Senator Barbara Boxer, medical errors are not only a huge concern for patient safety but are also a profound economic burden. It is estimated that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die in the U.S. every year as a result of preventable medical errors. Those mistakes translate to billions of dollars in direct costs, and economic losses in the trillions of dollars annually.

Fortunately, there is also evidence to suggest that California hospitals and medical professionals are taking efforts to promote patient safety and prevent dangerous medical mistakes from occurring. For instance, some state facilities are implementing measures to prevent pneumonia among patients on ventilators, while others have taken steps to prevent distractions that lead to medication errors.

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