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Patient deaths on the rise due to medical errors

Patients in Kentucky may be worried about the growing number of deaths linked to medical errors across the country. While access to healthcare and financing are considered major political issues, the ongoing crisis of preventable yet deadly medical mistakes has received little public attention. In 2000, the Institute of Medicine reported that over 100,000 Americans lost their lives each year due to medical mistakes. While healthcare technology has improved in the intervening years, these statistics have not.

Instead, they have become even more troubling. In 2016, preventable patient deaths were estimated at over 250,000 annually. Every year, at least 12 million patients suffer due to diagnostic errors, and 4 million of those suffer serious harm as a result. Nurses expressed their concerns in one survey; 35 percent said their places of work had poor records for patient safety. Some of the most persistent problems were medication errors; patients could receive incorrect prescriptions, or incorrect dosages could be provided by pharmacists or hospital staff. In one study of severely ill people, one-fourth of patients reported some kind of serious medical mistake.

The true extent of the problem may be unknown, as not all statistics for patient injuries due to medical neglect or error may be fully reported. While the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services track severe pressure ulcers caused by neglected bedsores, it bases that information on often-incomplete claims data. In addition, psychiatric patients are particularly vulnerable to medical errors that may go unnoticed.

When patients seek medical help, they expect to receive treatment, not wind up in a worsened situation due to doctor errors. People who have suffered serious harm as a result of a medical mistake might opt to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer may be able to review the case for the potential to seek compensation for the damages suffered.

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