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Matt Sowell and Fadi Chakour, M.D. appeared on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross to bring attention to Medical Malpractice Awareness Month. They talked about the third leading cause of death in America: medical errors, following heart disease and cancer.

Dr. Chakour discussed what went wrong in Joan River’s case. It wjctlogoglowgrabbed national headlines when the comedian died after complications from a routine laryngoscopy and endoscopy almost two years ago.

While medical malpractice cases of celebrities grab national headlines, they said deaths from medical errors happen to Americans every day. Citing a recent study published in the Journal of Patient Safety showing 210,000-440,000 patients die each year from medical mistakes, Sowell said the lower end of that evidence based estimate is the equivalent of four Southwest airline jets crashing every day with no survivors. While only a small percentage of the American population dies from medical errors, he said that in a country of 340 million people, even a small percentage of medical errors produces large numbers and is unacceptable. Most medical professionals provide very good medical care and that with his cases, it’s not unusual for him to see the same few practitioners committing medical negligence.

Dr. Chakour said the lack of communication between the health care providers themselves and health care providers and patients is a top source of medical errors. He provided an example of one of their cases in which a man with highly curable lung cancer died because CT results showing a small tumor were not given to the man or his treating physician. When the patient went back for another CT scan months later, the mass had grown and spread all over his body. No longer treatable, he died.

They also touched on what patients can do to help prevent errors: ask questions, do online research before the procedure, get an unbiased second opinion, have an advocate at your bedside to speak up if there are concerns and ask medical staff what they’re doing and why. It also helps to be informed about your loved one’s condition, treatments and expected outcomes.

If you or a loved one has benn injured by medical negligence, consider contacting Terrell Hogan attorneys Matt Sowell or Fadi Chakour at (904) 722-2228.