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HHS Agency Gives Consumers Tips on Preventing Medical Errors

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Press Release: February 1, 2002

The Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced new consumer tip sheets in English and Spanish to help Americans from falling victim to medical errors.

"Patients and their families can use these tips to play a more active role in ensuring that they get the best health care possible," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "President Bush's budget for fiscal year 2003 will propose $84 million for HHS' initiatives to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors—a $10 million increase from the current years's level."

Medical errors cause between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths annually in hospitals alone, and cost the nation $29 billion in added health care costs. AHRQ's tip sheets arm the average American with advice on how to reduce his or her likelihood of having a mistake occur by explaining, through illustrations and easy-to-understand text, five key ways to avert such problems. Medical errors include patients being given the wrong type or dose of prescription medicines, having surgery on the wrong part of the body and contracting an infection within a hospital.

To request Ways You Can Help Your Family Prevent Medical Errors! or the Spanish-language version, Como proteger a usted y a su familia de los errores médicos, call the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or order it online from

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Bob Isquith, (301) 427-1539 (


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