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U.S. agency releases report on how to avoid medical errors

Every time you walk into a New York City doctor's office or hospital, you essentially put your life into another person's hands. The wrong diagnosis, prescription and even understaffing can greatly affect your health. While you would hope that medical errors are rare occurrences, studies being conducted show that they happen more often than you think. In fact some people may actually have been the victim of a hospital error or doctor's mistake without even knowing it.

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently released a report with suggestions on how hospitals, doctors, and medical staff can avoid making errors that cause harm to their patients. This report seems to be coming out as a response to the high numbers of people who are dying of causes unrelated to their actual illness. Instead, these people are dying from hospital acquired infections, surgical complications, mistakes in prescription doses, and other medical issues. One report from 1999 stated that medical errors caused the deaths of up to 98,000 patients while in a medical environment; medical experts say that those numbers have not improved much since.

In the report, the agency provides two lists that provide measures that can prevent infections, blood clots, falls, radiation exposure, prescription drug issues, and other common problems that occur. However, one health expert points out that while the suggestions are mostly simple ones, implementing them on a large scale will only be successful if administrators and other health leaders make sure that it is done.

If each person in the medical industry would exert a little more care and caution in their day-to-day care of their patients, there would be a large drop in the number of doctor errors and clinical mistakes.

Source: CBS8, "Report details steps to boost patient safety," Randy Dotinga, March 5, 2013

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