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Preventable medical errors still a concern at hospitals

Patients in Pennsylvania hospitals can die as a result of their injury or illness or because a health care provider commits an error. In the 1999 report 'To Err is Human," the U.S. Institute of Medicine estimated that there are between 44,000 and 98,000 hospital deaths every year caused by preventable medical errors. Since the report was released, improving hospital safety and preventing medical errors has been a top priority for researchers and regulatory organizations.

Though many analysts believe that hospital safety has improved over the past two decades, studies have shown that preventable medical errors are still a serious problem at U.S. hospitals. Researchers have found that between 3 and 5 percent of hospital deaths are the result of preventable medical errors.

One of the ways that hospitals have been able to improve patient safety is by routinizing the way that surgeries are performed. Rather than relying on individual surgeons to use their own unique approaches, hospitals require surgical teams to systematically check tasks off of a checklist. Another key safety improvement at hospitals has been the invention of laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive surgical technique that can be used to perform the same procedures that used to require large incisions.

A patient who was harmed by a medical error during surgery may want to talk to a lawyer about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. It may be a good idea to have a lawyer investigate a surgery even if a patient is unsure whether or not doctors committed any errors. Medical malpractice actions are subject to a statute of limitations, so an injured patient only has a limited time to pursue financial compensation.

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