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Liability reform to stop medical malpractice junk lawsuits, the subject of a Courier-Journal opinion piece, fell on deaf ears last week in light of an article printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association which reports doctors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 250,000 deaths annually. This flies in the face of the myth that tort reform in necessary to lower health costs.

By the numbers:
-12,000 people are killed each year by undergoing unecessary surgery
-7,000 folks die due to medication errors
-20,000 die as a result of other errors in hosiptals
-infections in hospitals account for another 80,000 deaths, and
-106,000 death occur as a result of non-error, negative effects of drugs.

Another analysis concluded that between 4% and 18% of patients experience negative effects in outpatient settings.

Consider the following statistics:
-116 million extra physician visits
-77 million extra prescriptions
-17 million emergency department visits
-8 million hospitalizations
-3 million long-term admissions
-199,000 additional deaths
-$77 billion in extra costs

Other studies indicate that as many as 20% to 30% of patients receive inappropriate care. Unbelievably, an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 among them die each year as a result of medical errors.

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