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Research could help reduce medical malpractice claims

Despite years of training and/or experience, doctors are still capable of making mistakes. Some of these mistakes lead to medical malpractice claims. It is these claims that are being researched by many hospitals and insurers around the country, perhaps including some here in Oregon, in order to identify any trends that could be addressed in an attempt to reduce the potential harm to patients.

It might surprise some Oregon readers to know that hundreds of thousands of people across the country die each year due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse or other medical personnel. This means that medical negligence is number three on the list of most common causes of death here in the United States. Many doctors, hospitals and malpractice insurers are alarmed by these numbers, and want to do something about them.

A malpractice insurer owned by physicians called The Doctors Company has taken thousands of claims and conducted numerous studies with them. The information gathered is then provided to hospitals and doctors to help identify problems areas in which changes in policies and procedures might reduce those types of claims. A hospital in San Diego, California used data gathered regarding emergency room mistakes to reduce those types of complaints.

More important than helping hospitals and doctors reduce their liability, using data from filed medical malpractice claims could help keep patients from enduring serious injuries or suffering death as a result of mistakes -- especially preventable ones. Sadly, it is impossible to completely eliminate medical negligence, which is why seriously or permanently injured individuals -- or the families of those who died -- retain the right to file negligence claims. Not only could an award of damages be made, but the case could help prevent another person and/or family from suffering the same fate.

Source: CNBC, "Health providers research malpractice suits to improve safety", Dan Mangan, May 10, 2016

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