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Medical errors cited as third leading cause of death in the U.S.

People who are sick or injured rely on medical professionals to heal them and make them well. Unfortunately, even the best-trained doctors can make mistakes. Hawaii residents might be interested to know that a recent report named medical errors as the country's third leading cause of death.

On April 25 Senator Barbara Boxer, of California, released a report that focused on the roughly 325,000 deaths each year that are caused by some type of medical error in U.S. hospitals. The report indicates that, compared to medical errors, only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths annually.

Of course, medical mistakes can take a variety of forms, including misdiagnosis, surgical errors and hospital negligence. Errors noted in the report resulted in medical problems ranging from adverse drug reactions to ventilator-induced pneumonia.

The report also noted that deaths from medical errors cost more than $19 billion each year, but this number could balloon as high as $1 trillion if lost productivity is factored in.

Sen. Boxer is urging hospitals and other medical professionals take the necessary steps to address the widespread problem of fatal medical errors. She supports the work of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, an organization focused on bringing the number of preventable deaths to zero by 2020.

By allowing Medicare to level penalties against medical facilities, the Affordable Care Act also puts pressure on hospitals whose readmission rates are high within 30 days of discharge.

Clearly, preventable mistakes too often cost patients their lives. If you have lost a loved one because of medical negligence, then don't hesitate to contact an attorney with experience in medical malpractice claims.

Source: Los Angeles Daily News, "325,000 deaths in American hospitals due to medical errors, Sen. Barbara Boxer says," Susan Abram, April 25, 2014

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