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How to avoid being victimized by a costly medical mistake

Every day, people in Cleveland put their lives in the hands of doctors and nurses. We trust that these trained professionals will take good care of us, but the truth is that serious medical mistakes are more common than we’d like to think.

According to a recent CNN report, medical errors are responsible for killing more than 250,000 people per year in the United States. Overall, this is about the third leading cause of death in the country, an anesthesiologist and critical care physician told CNN.

The good news is that many medical mistakes are avoidable if patients are willing to go out of their way to stay safe. CNN highlighted ten of the most shocking medical mistakes, along with ways to prevent becoming a victim. Here are a few of them:

  1. Mistaken identity. Believe it or not, many people have received the wrong medication or surgery because hospital staff members confused them with another patient. One way to help prevent this from happening is to make sure the nurse checks your entire name, date of birth and bar code on your wristband before each procedure.

  2. Tools being left inside of the body. There are many small tools used in surgery, and if the surgical staff isn’t careful, one could mistakenly be left in the body, potentially leading to infection and other complications. If you feel unexpected pain or swelling after surgery, ask your doctor if something could have been left inside of you during surgery.

  3. Wrong site operations. Doctors see dozens of patients each day who each require surgery on many different body parts. Unfortunately, this can lead to surgery being performed on the wrong body part. To help make sure this doesn’t happen to you, reaffirm the correct body part and procedure with the surgeon and staff.

If you have already been the victim of a terrible medical mistake, know that you may be entitled to compensation for you injuries. Doctors and hospitals must compensate victims of negligent treatment.

Source: Huffington Post, “Yolanda Medina, New York Mother Dies During Operation to Donate Kidney to Her Brother,” Tara Kelly, June 7, 2012.