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Regarding the May 4 Politics & the Nation article “Medical errors a lead cause of death”:

If medical errors were fully recognized as a leading cause of death, we would call it an epidemic and pour resources into prevention or a cure. As it is, we must rely on not only physicians but also hospitals and other medical institutions to heal themselves for their own good and ours.

In the meantime, families can play an important part in protecting their loved ones from obvious mistakes such as wrong-site surgeries and hospital-acquired infections by speaking up when they see or suspect a problem.

Over the past quarter-century, I have advocated forcefully and successfully for my husband through 14 hospitalizations.

I’ve learned the value of paying close attention, working collaboratively with doctors and nurses and taking a stand when necessary. More than once, I helped save his life.

The more families or close friends are involved in hospital patient care, the better the outcome for all concerned.

Bonnie Friedman, Silver Spring