Back in 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a report saying that preventable medical errors were leading to at least a million cases of injury and some 44,000 to 98,000 fatalities in the U.S. More recent data tells a similar story. Georgia residents should know, though, that improvements have been made and that several medical institutions have established a goal of zero harm.

For one thing, the past 20 years have seen a clarification in the definition of a medical error and improvement, as well as expansion, in detection methods. There are roughly two types of errors, the first being those that arise while doctors are doing the correct thing, and the second being those that occur through doctors’ own conscious actions. Medication overdoses would fall into the first category and misdiagnoses in the second.

Previously, hospitals would focus on preventing the first type of error. In general, hospitals are turning away from a culture that stresses inevitability to one that focuses on preventability. Many do this by addressing the fact that medical experts make mistakes when they start treating their work as routine.

The path to zero harm appears to be a long one. A Leapfrog Group report gave 43% of hospitals a grade of C, D or F when it came to patient safety.

Regardless of the nature of the medical error, if it is due to medical malpractice, then it can form the basis for a claim. Victims may seek compensation for their past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other applicable losses. Families of loved ones who die can file a wrongful death lawsuit and be reimbursed for pre-death medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and more. Whatever the situation, it may be wise to consult a medical malpractice attorney.