According to a recent medical study, surgical mistakes performed in surgery rooms across the United States result in medical malpractice payouts to the tune of over $1.3 billion annually. These medical malpractice payouts are the result of over 4,000 mistakes that researchers insist are easily preventable, so much so in fact, that some researchers have dubbed them “never events.”
They feel that the moniker is apt because the types of errors that they see are ones that shouldn’t really happen in the first place. Examples of such mistakes include leaving a sponge or other surgical equipment inside the patient’s body or performing the wrong procedure, or the correct procedure on the wrong part of the body.
According to research analysis, the researchers estimate that each week, on average, surgeons leave a foreign object such as a piece of surgical equipment inside the patient’s body after an operation nearly 40 times. They also estimate that patients get the wrong procedure performed on them about 20 times, and finally, some patients receive the correct procedure on the wrong body part about 20 times.
Even more alarming is the physical negative consequences of all these surgical mistakes. Nearly seven percent of the cases resulted in death, while 33 percent resulted in permanent damage to the patients. The bulk of the cases, nearly a third, resulted in temporary injuries.
Some solutions that the study suggests may greatly decrease the likelihood of such surgical errors include surgical checklists that force a surgery team to follow step-by-step procedures to ensure that nothing gets overlooked. Also, counting and noting the number of surgical equipment such as sponges prior to starting surgery and then after the operation is complete can help ensure that nothing gets left inside the patient.
Clearly, surgical errors are still an issue and despite some available solutions, surgical mistakes still happen. Legal options are available for patients, however, and one may want to consider consulting with a Philadelphia Surgical Errors Attorney for more information.
Source: Surgery, “Surgical never events in the United States,” Winta T. Mehtsun, MD, MPH, Andrew M. Ibrahim, MD, Marie Diener-West, PhD, Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD, Martin A. Makary, MD, MPH