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Welcome to Vegas Lawyer. This site is for people who were hurt in Nevada. Contact us for a free consultation. You may want to read the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law introduction on our home page. Also, you can get an overview of other claims like Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents, Slip & Fall, and Products Liability before you explore the Article below.

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Medical Error Crisis


February 1, 2000

Mr. Chairman: Thank you for convening this hearing, the second in a series of three that the Health and Education Committee will be holding on the topic of medical errors. I am pleased that the Committee is looking carefully and thoughtfully at this troubling issue and I'm delighted to be working with the Chairman, Senator Kennedy, Senator Frist and other members of this committee to draft legislation to address it.

As we are all now aware, a recent Institute of Medicine study has revealed a major health crisis -- not a deadly new virus or another tear in the safety net -- but a crisis of human error. According to the IOM, medical mistakes, ranging from illegible prescriptions to amputations of the wrong limb, are responsible for as many as 100,000 deaths a year.

A subset of the broader problem of medical errors are those medical mistakes related to the use of prescription drugs -- the subject of a new General Accounting Office report and today's hearing.

Most Americans feel confident that the medicines they take will be safe and effective -- and they should. Before making their way to patients, prescription drugs in this country undergo rigorous testing -- a process that is widely regarded as the best in the world.

However, as we rely more and more heavily on prescription drugs to cure our illnesses and to keep us healthy, even the remote possibility that we could be hurt, rather than helped, by these products is indeed disturbing. With over 2.5 billion prescriptions written each year, if just a tiny fraction contain a deadly mistake, we face a significant public health crisis.

Knowing that the use of any prescription medication carries with it some risk, we must do better to ensure that mechanisms are in place to catch adverse reactions and to feed safety information back to regulators, health care providers and the public.

And, understanding that some of the health risk from prescription drugs comes from how they are prescribed and used, rather than how they are made, we need to make sure that we have systems in place that minimize the chance of deadly errors.

We must give doctors, nurses and pharmacists the tools that they need to keep up with the explosion of information about new medicines. And we must continue to fill the tremendous gap in knowledge about safe dosages for children.

And finally, a critical component of any plan to reduce medication mistakes must be helping patients to be skeptical, questioning consumers of health care.

One of the key messages the public should draw from the medical errors debate is that remaining unengaged in one's health care presents a very real health risk. So, we must do all that we can to assist patients in using medications safely, particularly those whose understanding of safe practices may be compromised by poor literacy skills.

This information came from a
US Senate online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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