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Family files malpractice suit for failure to diagnose meningitis

Last week was Patient Safety Awareness Week in the United States. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness about the many serious acts of medical negligence that occur every year in the United States. According to a report issued by the Institute of Medicine, more than 90,000 people die in the U.S each year from serious medical errors or adverse medical events. Maryland patients may be interested in reading about some of the following statistics.

Medical mistakes and errors that give rise to medical malpractice litigation include a broad range of activities from hospital negligence to administrative mistakes. Among the most common medical mistakes today are medication errors. According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, there are 1.5 million medication errors annually with a cost of around $3.5 billion. While medication errors receive considerable press, this is just one type of medical mistake.

In addition to medication errors, every week there are headlines discussing serious medical mistakes that have left patients injured or worse. In recent years, stories have included a man who lost his leg after suffering a blood clot because a medical device was left in his leg, a pregnant woman and child who died after having a feeding tube inserted and many cases of newborns dying from heparin overdoses.

The Agency for Health Research and Quality has provided a list of 22 ways for patients to keep themselves safe. Some steps include researching doctors and hospitals, ensuring that medical professionals are properly licensed and, of course, asking doctors questions about medical care and necessary follow-up steps. While these steps can reduce the risk of injuries, accidents still happen and in such cases, the victim may be entitled to damages.

Source: Huffington Post, "Safe Health Care for All During Patient Safety Awareness Week," Kim Siarkowski Amer, March 13, 2013

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