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Causes, frequency and dangers of medical negligence, part I

In Illinois and across the U.S., people who go for medical treatment for an illness or a medical concern will feel relief when they are told that it is not something that is serious. If they are told that it is a significant issue, they will go through treatment to deal with it. Sometimes, however, the diagnosis is wrong, inappropriate treatment is given and people suffer as a result. Medical mistakes are often preventable. There are certain important facts that a person should understand when they believe that medical negligence has led to a worsened condition or even a fatality.

Since 1999, when there was a well-known report regarding medical mistakes, the number of errors has grown to between 100,000 and 400,000 on an annual basis. For every 100,000 instances in which there are hospital admissions, there are 120 adverse events annually. In addition, there are 4,000 near-miss surgical errors, which includes wrong-site surgery. A 2015 published report said that medical mistakes were the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and approximately two to three percent of people who are hospitalized are severely harmed. Furthermore, a U.S. News and World Report study stated that the most common preventable medical errors involve medication, overdoing blood transfusions, premature babies receiving too much oxygen, infections from a healthcare setting, and infections from central lines.

A separate study last year stated that for every 20 administrations of medication related to a surgical operation, there was one error or adverse event. This research examined nearly 3,700 administrations of medication out of 277 operations. There were 193 medication errors or adverse drug events. The study found that nearly 80 percent were preventable. Also, incidents known as sentinel events happened more than 6,200 times between 2004 and 2015 in hospitals. Three hundred and fifty-one such events were in ambulatory care locations. A sentinel event is unexpected and involves death or injuries that can be physical or psychological.

This is just a portion of the information that has been gleaned in recent years about the risks of mistakes and medical malpractice. Part II of this blog series will cover the rest. In many of the cases in which someone died, understanding these facts can help the victim and the family decide what to do next. Speaking to an attorney who is experienced in filing a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit after a missed diagnosis can be helpful with an investigation and pursuing compensation.

Source: beckersasc.com, "10 things to know about medical errors," Anuja Vaidya, Jan. 29, 2016

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