Study Finds Thousands of Preventable Surgical Mistakes Made Every Year
By Richard N. Shapiro, Medical Malpractice Attorney
The results of a new study have found that more than 4,000 preventable mistakes occur in surgery every year at a cost of more than $1.3 billion in medical malpractice payouts. Researchers refer to these mistakes as “never events” because they are events that should never have happened. Incidents like performing the wrong procedure or leaving a sponge inside a patient’s body after surgery are the types of never events recorded with the National Practitioner Data Bank from which the study drew its data from.
Compiling statistics from the years 1990 to 2010, researchers concluded that surgeons, on a weekly basis, leave a foreign object like a sponge or towel inside a patient’s body after an operation 39 times; perform the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times; operate on the wrong body site 20 times.
The results were published in Surgery. In an interview, one of the researchers, an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that the results are actually on the low end of the range because many never events go unreported. Unless a patient has complications and needs to return for medical attention, the event can go undiscovered.
The consequences of surgical mistakes ranged from temporary injury in 59% of the cases to death in 6.6% of the cases and permanent injury in 33% of people affected.
The Virginia Injury Lawyer Perspective:
The results of this study are shocking. According to the study, nearly two-thirds of surgeons involved in a surgical mistake had been cited in more than one separate malpractice report in the past, and 12.4% were named in more than one surgical never event.
We’ve represented many clients who have been injured in surgical never events. Hide-and-Seek: When Surgical Tools Are Left Inside Patients reports on one client our firm represented where a small piece of a surgical instrument had broken off and was left inside the patient. Another client we represented received a $425,000 settlement for a retained surgical sponge injury.
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About the Editors: The VA-NC medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro include medical and surgical malpractice lawyers licensed in both Virginia and Carolina. Our attorneys have experience handling medical malpractice cases involving hospital and doctors’ mistakes, as well as nursing home abuse and neglect. Check out our case results to see our track record of success in medical malpractice lawsuits, and also be sure to read our free medical malpractice reports Top 10 Tips From a Medical Malpractice Insider and Top 5 Surgical Errors. Attorneys with our firm have been listed among the Best Lawyers in America since 2008. Attorneys with our personal injury law firm have also been named Virginia Super Lawyers since 2010, an honor fewer than 5 percent of practicing attorneys receive.