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Over the years, several highly publicized medical incidents with serious patient consequences awakened Americans to the safety, or lack thereof, in healthcare. Actions have been taken to improve safety for patients, but this effort needs to maintain momentum. Today is the Michigan Health & Hospital Association Patient Safety and Quality Symposium. This year’s focus is “Keeping the Promise: Putting Patients at the Center of Safety". The event focuses on teaching health care providers strategies for making patients safer through new ways of thinking and communicating.

Michigan, like most states, is implementing initiatives for patient safety; the state has intensified efforts at preventing medical errors. Fewer medical errors equates to fewer injuries or fatalities, which equals fewer lawsuits. Statistics prove fact that when preventable medical errors decline, the number of malpractice lawsuits decline as well. The link between safety performance and malpractice incidents has been a major debate in the national health care reform initiative. A study done by the Rand Corporation demonstrates that putting a greater focus on improving health care safety benefits the health care providers as much as the patients. It is no surprise that this study shows a link between improving safety and reduced medical malpractice claims.

Medical errors are one of the nation’s leading causes of injury and death. Over 100,000 people die in hospitals, each year, from preventable medical errors. Some believe that stopping these preventable incidents requires a culture change. Nurses must be empowered to question doctors who aren’t follow hospital protocol. Checklists have been credited with preventing thousands of medical errors. Have you ever been admitted for surgery and a nurse comes in with a clipboard, asking a series of questions? There is an important reason for this procedure or protocol. Are you allergic to certain medications or anesthetic? Do you have any pre-existing conditions that may effect surgery or recovery? What medications are you taking? When did you last eat? When did you last take medication? Have you provided informed consent? Do you know the side effects of medication, anesthetic or potential limitation following surgery? It is important for the patient to know they are safe in the hospital.

Everyone must work together to assure that our health care system is safer, including the patient. You must take an active role in your own health and health care; be a part of important decisions about your care. Make sure your doctor is aware of every over-the-counter and prescription medications you are taking, including vitamins and dietary supplements. Your doctor needs to know how much you take per day (milligrams, number of tablets, etc.) and how often. It is best to bring everything with you when you visit your doctor. For more tips to help prevent medical errors, click here.

The government has been incentivizing states to find innovative ways to reduce medical errors and reduce the incidents of preventable lawsuits. This is much preferred over tort reform, which punishes those who are injured or die at the hands of a negligent doctor or hospital and decreases the consequences to the negligent doctor or his/her insurance company. Tort reformers would rather limit patients’ recovery rights rather than deincentivize medical error.

Lawsuit Financial is pleased that Michigan is holding this symposium today. We hope the healthcare providers of Michigan “keep the promise”, placing patients at the center of safety rather than the center of a lawsuit or worse, a grave. Our pro-justice lawsuit funding company will continue to speak out about the importance of patient safety as well as alert our readers about the negative safety impact of tort reform. We request your support and assistance in this effort. Further, medical professionals must stop blaming victims and attorneys; they must stop attempting to link serious injury and death caused by serious error to "lawsuit abuse" and "frivolity".

In the meantime, Lawsuit Financial will continue to provide lawsuit funding to serious injury and wrongful death victims of medical malpractice, auto accidents, and other acts of negligence.

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