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Researchers say medication errors cost billions every year in U.S.

Doctors, nurses, surgeons and other health care workers are skilled individuals who take on significant responsibilities every day when working with patients who are in need of medical care and treatment. Although Fayetteville patients may understand that health care workers can only do so much when it comes to diagnosing, treating and monitoring health conditions, patients still trust that their medical care providers will do so to the best of their abilities.

Medical professionals must follow strict guidelines when working with patients in order to ensure quality care, but sometimes workers deviate from the accepted standard of care due to time constraints, fatigue or negligence. Patients might assume health care professionals rarely deviate from accepted medical practices, but the truth is: medical errors happen every day in the U.S. According to researchers, these errors cost about $17 billion every year.

The cost of medical errors in the U.S. is certainly jarring, but what is more concerning is how these errors affect patients. Medical errors include failing to properly diagnose health conditions, failing to give patients proper medications for their health problems or giving patients the wrong dose of a medication, operating on the wrong patient or wrong body part, failing to prevent and diagnose hospital infections, and failing to safely deliver babies. These errors can result in serious injuries, permanent injuries, or even death.

Although some medical complications cannot be avoided, many health problems can be prevented when doctors, nurses, surgeons and other medical professionals avoid making mistakes. According to a Health Affairs report, some common medical mistakes involve medication errors.

On an annual basis, medication mistakes affect more than 1 million Americans. When patients are harmed by medication errors, they will most likely need additional medical care in order to avoid suffering fatal complications or permanent injuries. Researchers claim that these preventable mistakes result in about $3.5 billion in additional expenses for medical care and treatment for complications caused by medication errors.

Medication errors are costly, but victims of medical malpractice should not be responsible for these costs. When patients are seriously harmed by medication errors, they may want to consult an attorney in order to determine how much they are entitled to recover in compensation for their pain, suffering and medical expenses.

Source: VOXXI, "Medical errors costing the nation lives and more than $17B annually," Hope Gillette, Jan. 22, 2013

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