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Medical errors cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year

The medical system is meant to protect us from diseases and illnesses and to keep us healthy. While the practice of medicine may be complicated, the years of advanced training and experience held by professionals together with advanced technology and pharmaceuticals allow most treatments to be conducted accurately, efficiently, and safely. But sometimes a hospital mistake takes place that causes serious injury or death. These mistakes have some questioning whether medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America.

The Journal of Patient Safety estimates between 400,000 and 425,000 individuals die each year as a result of medical errors. If this number is accurate, medical errors would fall behind only cancer and heart disease as a leading cause of death. To make matters worse, the World Health Organization has ranked America 12th out of 13 on a list of countries with modern medical care. These statistics show the U.S. medical system is far from perfect, and unsuspecting patients are bearing the cost.

When a hospital injury or death is caused by a medical professional's deviation from the reasonable standard of care medical malpractice may have occurred. Those who have been injured could face a worsened medical condition, severe pain, emotional scarring, a loss of enjoyment of life, and lost wages. Families who lose a loved one to hospital negligence could lose much needed emotional and financial support. Either way, medical malpractice can negatively affect lives forever.

In an attempt to punish errant medical professionals and to seek recovery for damages, victims of medical malpractice and their families can file a lawsuit against those who they believe were negligent. A hospital negligence lawyer can assist in defining the standard of care that was owed to the patient, help try to show that duty was breached, and attempt to establish the victim's harm resulted from that breach. If the case is won, compensation may be obtained to help remedy damages. These financial awards may help pay medical bills, cover lost wages, and compensate for pain and suffering felt as a result of the malpractice.

Patients trust doctors and nurses with their lives. With this in mind, medical professionals should take every step to avoid mistakes. But when one does occur, a patient should seek help from an attorney who can assist in holding these individuals and institutions accountable.

Source: The Washington Times, "Are medical errors the third leading cause of death?," Paul Mountjoy, Sep. 28, 2013

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