As D.C. medical malpractice lawyers, we were distressed to see that medical malpractice, violating patient safety rules, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

We live in the greatest country on earth.  A constitution protects our rights.  A fierce military protects our lives.  And, as Americans, we take responsibility for our actions.
Representing patients in medical malpractice cases in D.C., Maryland and Virginia against hospitals, HMOs and doctors, we see both the best and the worst - great courage of a single mom raising a severely disabled child with cerebral palsy.  Carrying him up the stairs every night.  Cutting up his food and feeding him.  Patiently cleaning and bathing him.  Every day.  For years and years.
Sometimes we see the worst in healthcare - hospitals and healthcare corporations that lose or destroy medical records after one of their doctors commits malpractice.  Hospital system failures, where no one is accountable to review test results that have been ordered, where the doctors, nurses and specialists don't communicate, HMOs that diagnose a life threatening condition but never tell the patient.
But we were stunned to learn that preventable medical malpractice is the sixth leading cause of death in our country - behind heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease and accidents or unintended injuries.  It is ahead of diabetes and Alzheimer's.
And no one focuses on preventing medical malpractice.  What is needed to keep our communities safe?
 For hospitals, healthcare corporations, HMOs, doctors, and nurses to put patient safety first and follow patient safety rules.  To get all of the information - test results, MRI results, CT reports, lab work - before making a critical decision.   To promptly and adequately examine a patient - not be in a rush, without time to listen, or assume a resident, fellow or someone else already did it.  To inform the patient of the results, diagnosis and treatment options.  To not needlessly harm the patient.
Most of the time, there is a system failure - a test result that one doctor thinks the other is following up on, a discharge before reviewing an MRI scan, healthcare providers not documenting their findings in the patient's chart so the next physician caring for the patient can review the history, lab results and diagnosis, not getting a specialist involved, a doctor without the specific knowledge and training not recognizing a problem or thinking he can handle it.  Or not reviewing a patient's chart because the doctor doesn't have time, is too rushed, or doesn't know there was a change in the patient's condition. 
In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School found nearly 18% of patients are injured during the course of their care and many of those are life threatening, even fatal. This was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in November 2010.
As a community, and as a country, we need to stand for patient safety.  Requiring hospitals, healthcare corporations and HMOs to follow patient saftey rules (the same ones that are posted on their walls, their websites and given out in patient's Bill of Rights brochures).