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A closer look why medical errors occur

Though medical and scientific advancements have helped people in Illinois live longer and healthier lives, doctor and hospital errors continue to be a problem. One out of every 20 individuals treated by a medical facility is exposed to preventable harm. Unfortunately, 12 percent of medical mistakes result in death or permanent disability.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report on the staggering number of medical errors in the United States. Though laws and practices have been put into place to reduce these numbers, the number has more than doubled in a 20 year time period. Money allotted to research on reducing medical errors and medical malpractice remains sparse. One of the major problem areas is in diagnosing patients with the correct disorder.

The vast majority of people will experience an infection, cancer or a vascular problem at some point during their life. Known as the big three, these conditions are the most likely to be misdiagnosed. Each year $1.8 billion in malpractice suits are filed concerning serious injury or death that resulted from a misdiagnosis. Experts hope that more attention given to patients from practitioners and advancements in technology may make it easier for correct diagnoses to be given.

Medical errors total millions of dollars each year in costly medical bills, lost wages due to time spent away from work and pain and suffering. Overcrowded doctor offices and too much time spent in front of a computer rather than on a patient are two reasons that doctors may not give the correct diagnosis to their patients. A lawyer might be able to help a patient collect medical and compensatory damages for bills incurred as a result of a medical error. For example, a doctor who made a fatal mistake as a result of not ordering the correct tests might be responsible for the medical error. It may be possible to file a civil suit against the doctor to assist the family who lost a loved one.

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