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With 98,000 deaths annually due to medical error and negligence in U.S. hospitals, the old saw, “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth A Pound of Cure” remains the best prescription for avoiding injury. Hospitals are complex systems, and doctors and nurses are busy people. Patients who take an active role in risk avoidance will do well for themselves in this environment.

The American Trial Lawyers Association is campaigning this week about patient safety awareness. The National Patient Safety Foundation, launched in 2002, is a national organization that promotes education and awareness about patient safety issues. It publishes a useful consumer fact sheet of tips to make health care safer:
The makers of the film “Things You Should Know Before Entering the Hospital” have also issued a helpful list of ideas to minimize the risk of injury due to medical error while in a hospital.

Meanwhile, Congress seems to be focused on stripping the injured patients of their rights to fair compensation. As ATLA’s campaign observes, “Congress should protect patients, not those guilty of medical negligence.”

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