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Hospital errors among leading causes of death for Americans

Each year, preventable medical errors are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in New York and all over the nation. Scientific American reports on these serious events, which has medical professionals referring to a crisis within the current state of healthcare.

Although the actual toll is still up for debate, even relatively conservative estimates show a significant issue. A 2014 study claims that between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die annually as a result of preventable medical errors. These figures are in contrast to previous studies, which showed approximately 98,000 patient deaths per year. However, understanding the true scope of the problem is difficult, due to issues like inaccurately recorded medical records, as well as some healthcare providers’ unwillingness to report mistakes when they happen.

If the higher figures are accurate, preventable medical errors would be the third leading cause of death for Americans, just behind heart disease and cancer. No matter the actual tally, many in the medical community call for increased transparency when it comes to reporting medical mistakes. Many doctors are also insisting on increased patient awareness of the potential for medical errors, whether during surgical procedures or routine testing.

While hospital errors can’t always be avoided, Medline Plus offers patients information on what they can do to ensure accurate and safe medical treatment is being provided. When undergoing surgery, going to a hospital that has extensive experience with that specific procedure is highly recommended. Making a list of current medications, as well as any allergies, is also helpful for medical staff. Because infections are always possible during surgery, ensure that any friends, family or even healthcare providers follow all pertinent procedures (such as handwashing and wearing gloves when necessary). 

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