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Medical errors harm one-in-four patients

A well-kept medical secret is that one-in-four patients are harmed by treatment mistakes in hospitals. Perhaps more surprising, many hospitals do not track important quality indicators such as surgical errors. And hospitals that do track treatment problems don't usually make the information available to the public. However, an effort is underway to improve the tracking and sharing of medical data, making health care providers more accountable.

To encourage the sharing of information about medical mistakes, some health care professionals believe that current medical students will drive the movement toward more transparency. Medical students are part of a rising generation that is less tolerant of dishonesty. It is hoped that they will bring a wave of accountability and transparency that will transform the health care system.

Surgery is one area in which treatment errors can have serious consequences. An example of a surgeon mistake is wrong-site surgery. Wrong-site surgery occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part.

However, surgeons are not the only medical providers that might make a mistake. Negligent operating room staff could also cause a medical error. For example, giving a patient an incorrect dosage of medicine could seriously harm a patient, and, in some cases, result in death.

Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider acts negligently and not up to standards. As more people call upon hospitals to be transparent about medical errors, hopefully the error rates will decrease. In the meantime, however, those who have been injured by a medical error of some kind may find it helpful to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney so they can gain a comprehensive understanding of their rights and options.


Source: Huffington Post, "Dr. Marty Makary Discusses How Transparency, Accountability Can Fix Broken Health Care System," Josh Zepps, Sept. 18, 2012

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