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According to the World Health Organization, there is a lot of room for improvement in the realm of hospital patient safety.
Although many people fear flying in an airplane, research by the WHO indicates that you are far more likely to be injured in a hospital than you are in a jumbo jet soaring 38,000 feet in the air. For every 10 million airplane passengers, one passenger dies because of an air crash. By comparison, about 10 percent of hospital patients worldwide are injured by a medical mistake, and about one person dies out of every 300 hospital patients because of a medical error.
The WHO found that the biggest problems in hospitals within both developed and developing countries are entirely preventable. These problems include surgical errors, falls, and poor sanitation, which can often directly lead to a patient becoming infected with a disease.
Of hospital patients across the globe, 10 percent of patients in developing countries and 7 percent of patients in developed countries will suffer from an infection that was acquired in the hospital. The fact that the rate of hospital-acquired infection is not much lower in the “First World” may surprise some readers.
Of developed countries, the United States lags behind the rest in combating hospital infections. The WHO estimates that about 1.7 million hospital infections happen each year in the U.S., and these infections lead to 100,000 patient deaths.
These numbers are astounding. Going to the hospital should not be more dangerous than flying in a plane. Nevertheless, people who are injured or lose a loved one because of negligent or substandard health care have rights in our legal system.
Injured patients or their survivors have the right to seek compensation for their medical injuries in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In addition, a medical malpractice lawsuit can have a less tangible effect when a lawsuit brings public attention to dangerous medical negligence. The goal of many such lawsuits is to prevent similar medical injuries from happening in the future.
Source: Reuters, “Going into hospital far riskier than flying: WHO,” Stephanie Nebehay, 21 July 2011