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WHO report details widespread medical errors in all care settings

Health care professionals in Georgia strive to provide quality care to patients, but they sometimes fall short. Whether people receive care from a primary doctor, outpatient clinic or a hospital, they could suffer a harmful medical error, according to a report from the World Health Organization.

The WHO examined medical mistakes globally and determined that 40% of patients experienced harmful events in a primary or outpatient medical venue. Researchers found that close to 80% of the errors might have been preventable. Diagnostic and medication errors accounted for the bulk of harmful events. In the United States, diagnostic errors impacted 5% of patients at outpatient facilities.

Within hospitals, WHO researchers estimated that about 10% of patients experienced medical harm. The number of adverse events that appeared preventable approached 50% of cases. Among these cases, 30% of the patients died as a result of medical mistakes. At U.S. hospitals, studies on autopsies revealed that misdiagnoses lead to the deaths of 10% of patients.

Overall, the WHO report concluded that unsafe care represented a leading cause of death globally. Within the United States, researchers estimate that medical mistakes result in the deaths of 210,000 to 440,000 people every year.

A person hurt by a misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes or medication errors might experience pain and suffering, lost income, missed treatment opportunities and extra medical expenses. A medical malpractice claim might recover these damages, but the legal standards for proving negligence are high in these cases. An attorney with access to independent medical experts might evaluate a victim's case to determine if it could support a malpractice insurance claim. If it does, legal counsel might gather testimony from an independent physician and manage litigation necessary to try to recover a settlement.

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