SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Heart disease and cancer rank as the number one and two, leading causes of death in America, but few people know that medical errors ranks third, killing up to 440,000 people a year.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, released a new report on Wednesday with the statistics and what some California hospitals are doing to prevent it some of these mistakes.

“We have the opportunity not just to save one life, but to save hundreds of thousands of lives; not by something that is so momentous like finding the cure for some disease, but by something simple— preventing medical errors,” she said.

Alicia Cole nearly died because the highly regarded Burbank hospital she went to for a simple ovarian fibroid was lax about hygiene and she suffered several life-threatening infections.

“[I] ended up having six additional surgeries, almost having my left leg amputated, left the hospital and had an open abdomen for three years that had to be packed twice a day by home health-care nurses,” she said.

UCSF showed Boxer solutions ranging from the high tech, including an electronic infection warning algorithm, to the comparatively simple: washing your hands. She wants all hospitals to standardize and adopt mistake-eliminating procedures.


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