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Medical errors do not always begin with doctors

Medical errors are the third most common cause of death in New York and across the country. Many of these mistakes occur in the operating room, and it is true that, sometimes, these mistakes seem indefensible. However, even as doctors often take the fall for medical errors, there may be times when the doctor's mistake is the last in a long line of errors. At least one researcher believes faulty recordkeeping may play a role in the rising number of medical mistakes.

About 250,000 fatal medical errors occur each year in the U.S., but many more mistakes cause lesser harm. There are many complexities involved in the health care industry, such as insurance claims, legal protections and risk management. Each requires detailed documentation, and every instance of documentation is an opportunity for error.

Physician dictation is not always easy to understand, and even a minor mistake, such as misspelling a name, inverting numbers or misnaming a medical condition, can affect a patient's diagnosis or insurance benefits. For example, one patient's record indicated she suffered from anorexia, a mental illness, instead of being anorexic, which is simply the loss of appetite. Such errors in documentation can lead to more serious mistakes in treatment and devastating damage to a doctor's career.

Doctors dealing with medical malpractice claims face many complex issues. There is often much at stake, and the circumstances may make it difficult to defend. Many New York physicians turn to an experienced attorney who has a reputation for successfully defending doctors facing malpractice allegations.

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