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Medical mistakes avoidable through industry reforms

Medical mistakes cost lives. Across the country 1.3 million people per year experience injuries due to medication errors alone. Additionally, over 210,000 people die in hospitals from medical mistakes. These mistakes might be from a doctor operating on the wrong body part, improper surgical techniques, equipment being left inside a patient after an operation, improperly trained medical staff, or many other problems.

The number of medical malpractice deaths could be the third most common cause of death, just behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. If this is true, as a recent report suggests, why is more not being done to prevent these tragic deaths?

The same reports says that this is a systemic problem in the health care industry and goes much deeper than one doctor making a mistake. It is rooted in a health care system that can't or won't make changes across the entire industry in order to prevent the most common mistakes.

The author of the article, a doctor, says that there are pieces of technology that can track how many sponges are used in a surgery and those tracking systems only cost $8-12 per operation. Such a little amount of money spent could help prevent serious complications from a sponge being left inside a patient.

There are numerous types of life-saving technology that could be used in hospitals but currently is not. It may take many more years or increased regulation for all hospitals and medical clinics to implement the technology. In the meantime, patients should understand the risks of surgery and be informed about what they can do to minimize those risks.

Source: Press of Atlantic City, “Medicine must address errors the way aviation does,” Nina Radcliff, Sept. 25, 2013

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