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Medical negligence is obviously an important issue in the health care debate – but it isn’t about money, statistics, or politics. It’s about real people. Each year, 98,000 people are killed as a result of medical errors, and countless more are injured.

Blake Fought, 19, of Blacksburg, VA, was one of these people. Blake was about to be released from the hospital after recovering from an illness that required a central line IV. Unfortunately, the nurse had never been trained to remove the IV and did not follow proper procedures, causing bubbles to enter Blake’s brain, heart and blood vessels. He died in front of the nurses and his own parents – who were at the hospital to take their son home.

Tort reform has been suggested as some magical cure to our current health care crisis. However, medical negligence is not an issue of money, but of patient safety. Countless studies have shown that tort reform will do little to reduce health care costs, and it certainly won’t improve patient safety. Tort law changes only hurts patients, who have already been injured through no fault of their own.

As Congress continues with the health care debate, it is important they remember the lives that are at stake. Limiting patients’ legal rights isn’t the answer. Rather, let’s look at ways to lower the number of preventable medical errors – a practical way to save lives and lower costs.

AAJ ran a print ad today in DC-based newspapers telling the story of Blake Fought and how Congress should put patients first. More info about medical negligence and its role in the health care debate can be found on AAJ’s website.

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