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Prevent medical malpractice -- Be your own advocate, Part 1

If four fully-loaded jumbo jets crashed each week, the number of fatalities would be equal to deaths from preventable medical malpractice. If the aviation industry had this kind of track record, the flying public would be up in arms. Although hospitals and doctors talk about fixing the problem of preventable medical errors, going to the hospital is still a very risky business.

In addition to preventable deaths, hospitals are also places where untold injuries occur because of medical errors. The exact number of such injuries is hard to calculate, as hospitals may fail to report as many as 86 percent of injuries and harms done to patients. This means that it is almost impossible to take steps to prevent similar errors because no one knows that they even occurred.

However, a Health and Human Services Study showed that one in seven patients suffered either long-term injuries or died because of hospital care. Of these, at least 44 percent were avoidable. Given this discouraging situation, it's important for patients to protect themselves. It is clear from the record that hospital staff are unable to keep patents safe.

In our next blog post, we will discuss steps that patients can take to help themselves and their loved ones avoid the harms caused by preventable medical mistakes. Consumers of hospital services need to be as aggressive about medical errors as they would be if the aviation industry had a similarly poor record of injury and death.

Source: Atlanta Legal Examiner, "AARP Warns Patients How To Help Prevent Medical Errors and Medical Malpractice In Hospitals," Apr. 4, 2013.