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Hawaii residents and others cautious of medical mistakes

Just into the new year, many people across the nation continue to be focused on their desire for good health. A common thought among  many is that the care provided by the nation's myriad medical facilities and health professionals stands in need of improvement. Patients throughout the country, including some in Hawaii, have taken matters into their own hands by being on the alert for medical mistakes which can have an adverse affect on a person's health.

The Harvard School of Public Health recently released the results of a survey where one in four patients of a state reported that they experienced medical error within the last five years. National studies have further indicated that approximately 440,000 deaths have been linked to hospital stays each year. At a senate hearing, a comparison was made which stated that this number would be equal to three jumbo jet crashes each day.

In Massachusetts, a center for patient safety and reduction of medical error was established to honor the memory of a female news reporter whose death was allegedly caused by an overdose of chemotherapy in treatment of her breast cancer. A panel of the center's investigators have reported several things which are believed to be significant to the issue. According to its findings, one problem is that most improvements that are made are done so in the hospital setting, which leaves other facilities such as outpatient centers, nursing homes and surgery centers vulnerable to errors. One in three medical residents surveyed stated that they see professional error as a serious problem.

Patients who are harmed due to the mistakes of medical personnel can potentially suffer long-term illness, injury, infection or -- in the worst cases -- death. In Hawaii, as in all other states, a person retains the right to seek legal counsel if he or she believes that they have suffered injury due to the negligence or error of professional medical staff. If a claim is successfully documented in a court of law, compensation could potentially be awarded to help offset any pain and suffering and any financial loss sustained as a result of medical malpractice.

Source: bostonglobe.com, "Patient safety must be part of Mass. health care agenda", Barbara Fain, Jan.7, 2015

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