Even though we spend more money per person on health care in the US than any other county in the world (estimated at over 3 Trillion dollars per year), by no means do we have the safest system or have the best outcomes. In fact, it has been estimated that over 400,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors - making it the third biggest killer - only surpassed by heart disease and cancer.
To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent of 3 Jumbo jets crashing EVERY DAY. Clearly if this was the case, very few people would fly. And yet, we still need to go to the hospital when we get sick.
These statistics are not being ignored by hospitals. No hospital or health care worker wants to cause harm. However working in a complex hospital environment with very sick patients is not easy. Small errors or oversights can lead to life or death situations when you are dealing with the critically ill.
What can you do as a patient or family member? Get involved with your care. Learn all you can about your condition and your treatment. Ask questions. If something does not seem right, don't be afraid to ask. Be an empowered patient!