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Unfortunately, neither ancedotal tales, rhetorical hocus-pocus nor blame pointed at the legal profession will put an end to medical negligence crisi in this country.

The Harvard Medical Practice Study, conducted by the University’s prestigious School of Public Health, found that among 31,000 randomly selected hospital records of patients discharged in New York State, 3.7% of those patients suffered some preventable “adverse event” during their hospitalizations. More then 27% of those patients should be considered victims of medical negligence, the task force concluded.

Most doctors are caring competent physicians who are concerned for the treatment and well being of their patients. However, applying the above findings nationwide means that negligence in American hospitals is responsible for 80,000 deaths and 234,000 injuries. And, those findings apply only to injuries and deaths in hopspitals, and not in facilities such as clinics, physician’s offices, nursing homes, etc. The tragedy is that the overwhelming percentage of these preventable medical errors are caused by a relatively small percentage of physicians.

Recently, in a New Jersey hospital, a physician had his license suspended for having removed parts of a patient’s right lung during surgery when in fact the patient was scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor from his left lung. The surgeon then tried to conceal the error by altering his records to show that he intended to operate on the right lung. That medical error caused the patient’s death.

While it is often argued that the legal system increases medical costs by requiring doctors to practice “defensive medicine”, this medical error was caused, at least in part, because the physician relied on a five-month old CT scan instead of ordering a new scan before performing the surgery. Practice of the oft maligned “defensive medicine” is nothing more than state-of-the-art medical care, practiced conscientiously with high-quality, results.

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