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Hospital mistakes: How patients are unfairly affected by errors

A very important question that has to be answered is, "How many people die due to medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals?" Hospitals are where you should feel your safest, protected by those who want to see you get well and to live a happy, healthy life. When something goes wrong, it can feel like everyone who was supposed to help you simply left you without concern for your health or safety.

It's believed that around 210,000 to 440,000 patients suffer from some kind of preventable injury when being treated at hospitals around the United States each year. Those patients eventually die, with those injuries contributing to their deaths and in some cases causing them.

If that statistic is completely accurate, it means that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death within the United States, falling only behind heart disease and cancer. That's something that just shouldn't be the case, especially since errors can be avoided.

Other estimates have stated that around 98,000 deaths could be attributed to medical errors. In either case, there are thousands of people dying despite being in a location where they should be receiving the best care. Studies can search for errors, but the real question becomes, "How do you fix it?"

Doctors who take their time, follow on-screen prompts on medical equipment detailing warnings and who communicate do well in reducing errors. Patients who take an active role in their health care also help reduce errors by being able to openly discuss their treatment plans and options, so both the doctor and patient understand what treatment is being used and why. Patients who do suffer injuries have a right to pursue legal action.

Source: ProPublica, "How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?," Marshall Allen, accessed Nov. 30, 2016

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