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Medical mistakes can have fatal consequences

Medical mistakes at hospitals and healthcare clinics can have grave consequences, according to CNBC.com. In fact, a recent study showed that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death among Americans, coming in behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 250,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors, and these deaths occur for a multitude of reasons.

In some cases, deaths are attributable to errors in dosing. In others, the wrong medication may have been provided, or a doctor may have experienced a significant lapse in judgment. While advancing technology has been proposed to reduce the number of medical errors, in some instances a technical issue may be to blame. Surgical complications are another serious issue, especially for people who are already extremely ill.

That's why advocates are calling for changes to the healthcare system, changes that would be in the best interest of patients receiving care. For example, some people are requesting that advanced technology be combined with aggressive staff oversight, meaning that records are double-checked to prevent a potentially deadly error. Patient advocates would also like to see fail-safes put in place to catch errors before they occur. For instance, some hospitals have taken to recording conversations between medical staff and patients. That way they can be referenced throughout the treatment process, which could prevent a serious error. 

Patients are also encouraged to play an active role in their care. If you're confused about instructions or diagnosis, ask plenty of questions. You should also be prepared to seek a second opinion when receiving a significant diagnosis or being provided a treatment you have questions about. If you don't feel up to the task, bring along a loved one to advocate on your behalf. 

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