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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Medical Mistakes Will Kill 200K This Year: Report

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There's a frightening prediction about what will happen to many Americans who seek medical care.

Thousands will end up dead because of errors and hospital infections, according the Hearst Corp.

But there are ways to protect yourself and your family.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports.

When we go into the hospital we assume we are in good hands, getting treated by highly trained medical professionals.

And to be fair, the vast majority of us do get the care we need without problems caused by doctors and nurses

But the number is alarming. According to an investigation by the Hearst Corp., 200,000 Americans will die this year from preventable medical errors and hospital infections.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton is the CBS "Early Show" medical correspondent.

"This kills more people each year than car accidents, and out of every 15 hospital visits, one child is injured due to medical errors, so this is a significant issue," she said.

Dr. Ashton offers a few tips on how to protect yourself:

-- Know every single medication you're given and tell doctors and nurses what you're allergic to.

-- Demand to see the surgeon before an operation. That helps avoid mistaken identity.

-- Have the surgeon sign your skin over the area that is being operated on to avoid surgery on the wrong side of your body or the wrong body part. If your right knee is being operated on, "the surgeon should actually sign with ink on your right knee so they where the surgery is occurring," Ashton said.

The Hearst study is called "Dead by Mistake." It says sleep deprivation plays a role in medical mistakes, along with improper nurse-to-patient ratio. In others words, there are not enough nurses for the patients they have to treat.


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