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Crackdown on fatal medical errors declared by US government

Medical professionals take their patients' lives in their hands every day. People depend on their doctors and nurses to competently diagnose and treat their condition; failure to do so could result in serious medical consequences. Despite the extensive amount of training medical professionals receive, they are still vulnerable to error and sometimes make mistakes. Unfortunately, when dealing with matters of life and death, one mistake could lead to a patient's death.

Recent studies have revealed that expensive medical errors are far more common than most people assume. Some patient advocacy organizations claim that as many as one in three patients suffer from some form of medical malpractice or hospital negligence. Such errors not only place a patient's life at risk but also add to the federal debt by contributing billions of dollars in Medicare bills.

A recent incident in one hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has drawn the nation's attention to the dangers of hospital negligence. Last September, a premature infant boy died after receiving an unnecessarily high amount of sodium after his birth. Reports indicate that the infant received 60 times more sodium than he should have, causing him to suffer from fatal cardiac arrest.

Last month, US politicians declared their commitment to reducing the occurrence of preventable medical errors which, by some accounts, are responsible for the deaths of approximately 200,000 people each year. In the meantime, victims of a serious medical error can seek legal compensation for their loss. The parents of the young infant mentioned above are suing their hospital for negligence, claiming that his death could have easily been prevented.

Source: CBS, "Baby's death prompts war against hospital errors." April 22, 2011

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