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Why are medical errors so common?

Medical mistakes are distressingly common in America. One study from Johns Hopkins estimates that medical errors kill 250,000 patients every year -- and injure many others. That would mean that medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death in this country.

What's behind all of the mistakes? Are patients doing something wrong? Are doctors just slacking off? Or is this a symptom of some tremendous problems within the American health care system that are generally causing issues with the quality of care?

Many people believe that it's the last one that's to blame for all of the trouble. They say that several different issues contribute to the problem:

  • Doctors get stuck in a rut. They prescribe the "tried and true" medications and order the standard tests -- long after safer drugs and better tests are available.
  • Electronic medical records (EMRs) are inaccurate or hard to read. They were supposed to eliminate errors. However, the wrong EMR system can cause mistakes that lead to incorrect diagnoses, lapses in care or medication issues.
  • Equipment failures are a problem. Medical equipment keeps getting more advanced and specialized. However, not all of that equipment does what it should.
  • Communication errors abound. There are so many "moving parts" in a hospital system that patient care can often lack continuity. That's frustrating for doctors, but potentially deadly for patients.
  • There's not enough staff. Doctors and nurses often operate for long shifts without enough breaks. Someone on the 14th hour of a rotation is not likely to be as efficient or sharp as someone who just started their day.

Anybody who goes into a hospital or sees a doctor could be a victim of medical malpractice. If you or a loved one falls prey to an inept medical system, find out more about your legal rights.

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Haberkorn & Associates
2055 Woodside Rd., Suite 155
Redwood City, CA 94061

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