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Preventable Medical Errors on the Rise

A quarter of a million Medicare patients were killed between 2002 and 2004 as a result of preventable medical errors, according to a new study on patient safety in American hospitals.

HealthGrades conducted the study to determine patient safety incident rates for every non-federal hospital in the country. The results of the study have raised serious concerns about the state of patient safety across the nation.

The study cited medical errors as a leading cause of death in the United States, but found that progress to remedy these errors among the nation’s hospitals is too slow.

Approximately 1.24 million total medical errors occurred in the Medicare population over the course of the three-year study, marking an increase for the second year in a row.
More than 300,000 patients died as a result of medical errors during this time. Of those, approximately 250,000, or 82 percent, were deemed preventable.

Ken Suggs, President of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA), said, “This study clearly shows Congress should focus on decreasing the enormous death toll from medical errors rather than eliminating the rights of patients injured through no fault of their own to hold corporate wrongdoers accountable.

On behalf of ATLA, Suggs made an offer to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to work together on patient safety reform. Although the reform would help reduce negligent medical errors, Frist never responded to the offer.

Frist is expected to propose a bill next month that would limit compensation for victims of medical negligence, stripping of their right to hold the negligent party accountable.

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