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Checklists Key to Preventing Surgical Errors

Medical accidents - such as surgical or medication errors - are a drain on the U.S. health care system that costs over $55 billion each year. But the toll of these errors is not just financial - studies show that every year there are tens of thousands of patient fatalities that are caused by some kind of medical mistakes.

Preventing Surgical Errors

According to a study published in the Annals of Surgery, adopting a surgical checklist can go a long way toward preventing deadly errors in hospitals. The study researchers - who looked at malpractice claims from healthcare facilities in the Netherlands - found that 29 percent of malpractice lawsuits could have been prevented had a surgical checklist been used in the hospitals.

Similar studies show that U.S. hospitals also benefit from the use of checklists, although only one-fourth of the country's hospitals are using any of the three checklists that experts consider effective in reducing medical errors.

"This kind of evidence indicates that surgeons who do not use one of these checklists are endangering patients," surgeon Atul Gawande, from the Harvard School of Public Health, told Reuters. "The message for hospitals is you want to adopt one of these checklists."

Other strategies that hospital staff can adopt to prevent surgical mistakes include taking a timeout so that members of the surgical team can address their concerns; getting enough rest before a procedure; avoiding distractions like cell phones and beepers; and implementing protocols in the emergency room for staff to follow.

Despite these error-reducing strategies, medical mistakes may still occur. If you have been injured because of the surgical error, you may be able to collect damages for your injuries. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you get compensation for your medical expenses, as well as your pain and suffering.

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