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The Patient's Guide to Preventing Medical Errors

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It is natural to feel apprehensive when facing a surgical procedure or entering a hospital to receive treatment for a newly diagnosed illness. Although a bit nervous, people assume that they will be safe. That assumption is wrong. A startling report revealed that it is far safer to fly on a commercial airliner than to be a patient in a hospital. In fact, receiving health care services is considered as dangerous as mountain climbing or bungee jumping.

The extensive report, “To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in Washington, D.C., states that up to 98,000 people die each year as a result of medical errors in U.S. hospitals. This is equivalent to 268 fatalities a day, or the loss of a fully loaded 767 airliner. Numerous others suffer from injuries while hospitalized, ranging from minor falls to permanent disability. The IOM report reveals that over half of these deaths and injuries are preventable.
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