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Every year between 44,000 and 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors. That is the take-away message from an item posted by Cyrus Dugger at TortDeform.

How to Reduce Medical Costs, Lawsuits & Deaths at the Same Time

The tort “reform” movement blames lawyers and lawsuits for the increasing cost of medical care.

Whether or not you buy that argument (and this blog has argued many times that you should not) the following article makes clear that the best way to “get rid” of high medical costs, lawsuits, and medical deaths is to reduce the large amount of avoidable medical errors occurring in America’s hospitals.

Studies: Hospitals Could Do More to Avoid Infections
Poor Hygiene, Operating Room Traffic, Antibiotic Use Are Cited

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer

Infections acquired in hospitals, which take a heavy toll on patients, arise mainly from poor hygiene in hospital procedures, not from how sick patients were when they were admitted, according to three new studies.
The studies, published yesterday in the American Journal of Medical Quality, provide new evidence for experts who argue that hospitals could prevent many of the growing number of infections that afflict patients nationwide, cost billions of dollars to treat and are responsible for thousands of deaths each year.

“It’s the process, not the patients,” said David B. Nash, the journal’s editor and chairman of the Department of Health Policy at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “These three groups independently found that despite hospitals’ claim that in the sickest patients it’s inevitable that someone is going to get a hospital-acquired infection, that’s just not the case.”

Rather than accepting some infections as unavoidable, Nash said, health professionals should do more to promote hand-washing among medical staff, take greater care in donning gowns and other infection-preventing clothing during medical procedures, reduce traffic in and out of operating rooms, isolate patients when necessary and use antibiotics more selectively.

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