A great number of fatalities are the direct result of avoidable medical errors. It’s estimated that 225,000 Americans die as the result of some form of medical malpractice each year. As inevitable as some amount of human error is, certain protocols could eliminate many of these mistakes. How Important is Patient Safety? A new Public Citizen report on obstetric safety suggests that focusing on reducing the number of mistakes instead of fighting lawsuits, will help to lower malpractice cases. Obstetrics was used for this review because they are responsible for the highest proportion of the largest medical malpractice liability awards. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that over 157,000 injuries to newborns and their mothers could be avoided each year. Since incidents are drastically higher at some hospitals, even factoring in demographic differences, it is clear that good practices could make a huge difference. Hospitals that have made a commitment to improving their obstetric care and undertaken focused efforts to avoid preventable errors have shown great improvement. Patient advocacy groups suggest that many medical mistakes could be avoided by asking the right questions and making communication between patients and medical professionals a top priority. Thoroughly discussing a procedure and outlining the risks and benefits can go a long way toward ensuring that it is the appropriate choice for a patient, reducing the risk that it will cause an individual harm. Relying on thorough diagnostic tests and second opinions before moving forward with a procedure can also reduce the likelihood that a mistake will be made. Ongoing training and making efforts to stay up to date with current standards of care is also a vital for medical professionals who want to avoid mistakes. High Rates of Medical Malpractice Obstetrics isn’t the only area that experiences high medical malpractice rates. Among inpatient incidents in the United States, surgical errors account for 34% of medical malpractice cases. For outpatient cases, diagnosis errors are responsible for 46% of medical malpractice cases. The reasons behind these cases span vary, from distraction and rushing through a procedure to simply not spending enough time consulting with a patient. As distressing as being the victim of medical malpractice can be, the problem is compounded by the efforts of hospitals, insurers and doctors who continue to lobby to reduce the legal rights of the injured. Those with question about medical malpractice laws may consult with personal injury lawyers for additional information.