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WHO report finds medical errors a top cause of patient deaths

Medical errors are a leading cause of death in Pennsylvania and worldwide, according to a new report from the World Health Organization. Worse, an overwhelming percentage of these mistakes are likely preventable.

The WHO report found that around 60% of cases involving patient harm around the world take place in hospitals. Meanwhile, around 40% occur in primary and outpatient settings. In addition, primary and outpatient medical mistakes account for around 6% of hospital bed days among patients from the 36 member countries of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, including the U.S. Nearly 80% of all patient harm cases are preventable.

The report also found that around 10% of all patients around the world suffer harm while receiving care in a hospital. Of these adverse events, almost 50% are thought to be preventable. Another 30% result in the patient's death. In the U.S., around 5% of U.S. outpatient adults suffer diagnostic errors. Further, autopsy results show that diagnostic errors are a factor in 10% of all U.S. patient deaths. When it comes to the cost of medical errors, WHO found that taking steps to prevent medical mistakes was much more cost-effective than funding the treatment of harmed patients. For instance, between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. saved $28 billion by implementing safety improvements in Medicare hospitals.

Victims of medical errors may have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault doctor and other responsible parties. If the claim is successful, it might lead to a settlement that covers a patient's medical bills, physical therapy costs, wages lost during recovery, pain and suffering, mental anguish and more. Victims may be able to learn more about their legal options by contacting a law firm that handles medical error cases.

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