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Medical malpractice: a hidden killer

It is often easy to forget that doctors and other medical workers are only human. The mistakes made, however, can lead to permanent and traumatic circumstances. Medical malpractice in Louisiana is an under-recognized and under-discussed topic. This is largely due to the lack of a method to collect information on incidents, thus resulting in a negligence of reporting cases.

John Hopkins Medicine has carried out research regarding medical malpractice. Researchers estimate that the third highest cause of death in the U.S. is medical error — that is over 250,000 deaths per year. Not only has malpractice moved to the forefront of nation-wide concern; studies have also revealed that medical malpractice is not even mentioned on most death certificates. Many of those in the medical field are advocating for changes in this lack of reporting. An international form was adopted in 1949 to better record cause of death, but the system itself failed to recognize that a large number of those deaths were due to medical mistakes. Since then, the form has been used to record mortality through billing codes, which do not identify the actual cause of death.

What is more surprising is the general neglect of patient complaints. Nola News of Louisiana reports that roughly 1,600 reports of medical malpractice are made each year in the state. Annual claim payouts from The Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund is also inadequate compared to the amount of funds circulating throughout the entire fund balance. The compensation fund is particularly restrictive about what bills it will pay per patient, regardless of how severe the patient’s permanent damages may be.   

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