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Errors more likely to occur when children have chronic illnesses

Researchers have found that children with chronic illnesses are more likely to be exposed to medical errors. Numbers from 2006 indicate that 1.3 percent children with no chronic illnesses were exposed to medical errors, whereas more than 5 percent of children with chronic illness were affected by a medical error.

Doctors say this information isn't surprising since children with chronic illnesses often must endure more frequent and longer hospital stays.

One doctor pointed out that a 5 percent error rate is relatively low. However, medical professionals should be working to prevent errors altogether, especially for our youngest and most vulnerable patients.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found that errors made by healthcare professionals kill close to 100,000 people and cost the United States between $17 billion and $29 billion annually.

Doctors and other medical professionals have a duty to provide their patients with proper care and treatment. They should be doing all that they can to prevent patient harm. Sadly, instances of medical malpractice occur all too frequently in New York City and elsewhere.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality suggests that patients and their family members ask questions to prevent errors. They recommend that people try to ensure that one of their physicians is coordinating their care between multiple doctors.

Another way to prevent future errors is to hold negligent doctors accountable for their errors through a medical malpractice lawsuit. In addition to providing victims with monetary awards, a malpractice lawsuit sends a message to other physicians that negligence will not be tolerated in the medical community.

Source: Reuters, "More hospital errors when kids have chronic ills," Amy Norton, Sept. 11, 2012

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