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

Houston residents may be surprised to learn that after heart disease and cancer, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in our country. These preventable mistakes made by medical providers, medical facilities, and others cause thousands of deaths and injuries each day.

In a 2014 Senate hearing it was learned that each day there are over 1,000 preventable deaths along with 10,000 preventable serious injuries that occur because of medical errors. Fifteen years ago it was estimated that 100,000 hospital patients died each year because of medical mistakes. There are also more than 400,000 people who perish because of a wrong diagnosis like the failure to diagnose cancer or taking an incorrect prescription.

There are many reasons for why these mistakes are happening. They can include operating on the wrong part of the body, not sterilizing instruments correctly, using the wrong drugs, contaminated blood, infections because medical professionals didn't wash their hands, birth injuries, and thousands of other situations. There can also be medical professionals who don't order the right tests or don't follow up on the tests they ordered. Also, many times when a patient is harmed by a medical error the medical provider covers up the mistake. And many hospitals do not publish their medical mistake statistics, meaning patients may have no idea that the hospital they chose has a high rate of injurious mishaps.

Patients have the right to safe medical care. When Houston residents go to the doctor or the hospital they should not be harmed by preventable medical mistakes. When these mistakes happen patients have legal rights to hold medical providers accountable for their errors.

Source: nydailynews.com, "When health care kills", James Warren, July 20, 2014

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