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Healthcare concerns plaguing patient safety right now

It seems that on a daily basis, both national and local news coverage profile stories of patients who have been affected by unacceptable medical errors. It is unfortunately all too easy for Americans to move on from these stories of birth injuries, wrong-site surgeries and delayed diagnosis after registering a brief feeling of empathy. In truth, Americans should be alarmed at the state of medical malpractice in this country and should understand just how likely they are to be affected by it.

According to a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, as many as 400,000 Americans perish annually due either in part or wholly as a result of preventable medical errors. The same study indicates that these instances of medical malpractice are the third leading cause of death among American adults. Preventable medical errors are not an insignificant problem. They are more likely to kill you than car crashes are.

Even if a preventable medical error does not kill you, if you become hospitalized for any reason you will have a one in three chance of suffering some kind of preventable harm while hospitalized, according to the Institute of Medicine. You could contract a severe infection, develop chronic pain or struggle with other significant challenges as a result of this commonplace preventable harm.

There are a number of safety issues currently affecting patient safety today in America. But perhaps the most devastating is the rate of preventable medical harm and medical malpractice that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year and affects one out of every three hospitalized patients. It is time to treat the rate of preventable medical errors with the seriousness and urgency that this issue deserves.

Source: Forbes, “Six Frightening Facts You Need To Know About Healthcare,” Robert J. Szczerba, Oct. 22, 2013

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