World Health Organization says medical errors more risky than flying

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Many people across the country have no problem expressing their fear of flying. Liam Donaldson is the patient envoy for patient safety with the World Health Organization (WHO). He says the risk of dying in an airplane accident is about one in 10 million. He says the risk of being subjected to a medical error in a hospital is roughly one in 10. And roughly one in 300 patients who have suffered a medical mistake dies as a result of the error, according to Donaldson.

The WHO numbers are apparently based upon world-wide observations. However, Americans suffer a greater number of infections acquired during hospital visits than our European counterparts. Donaldson says 1.7 million infections are acquired in American hospitals each year. Hospital acquired infections lead to roughly 100,000 deaths in the United States in a given year. Meanwhile, in Europe, a far greater number of infections happen, roughly 4.5 million. Those hospital acquired infections lead to only 37,000 deaths.

Many hospital acquired infections are preventable. Donaldson says roughly 100,000 hospitals worldwide follow a surgical checklist developed by the World Health Organization. The agency says the checklist has been shown to reduce complications following surgery by one-third and has cut the number of deaths by one-half.

“Infection is a big problem, injuries after falls in hospitals is a big problem and then there are problems that are on a smaller scale but result in preventable deaths. Medication errors are common,” Donaldson says. Jersey City medical malpractice lawyers are aware that complications can occur during most any type of medical procedure. However, preventable medical errors caused by the negligence of medical personnel may entitle victims or their families to damages.


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