What Are The Most Common Surgical Errors?
In the previously mentioned WebMD study, researchers found that each week, surgeons:
- Leave a foreign object (i.e. a sponge, surgical tool, etc.) inside a patient’s body following an operation about 39 times
- Perform the wrong type of surgery about 20 times
- Operate on the wrong body part or wrong person about 20 times
It should be noted that these accidents are likely even more common than the statistics suggest, as many surgical errors go unreported. In most cases, surgical errors like items left behind after surgery are only discovered if the patient experiences complications after the procedure.
In cases that did involve complications, about 59% of patients suffered from temporary injuries, 33% from permanent injuries, and 6.6% died because of surgical errors.
Frequency Of Malpractice Judgments & Claims For Surgical Errors
Between 1990 and 2010, there were a total of 9,744 paid malpractice judgments and claims in cases involving surgical errors. In total, $1.3 billion was paid out to patients who suffered health complications because of one of these never events.
These surgical mistakes are considered never events because if all safety rules are closely followed, they should never happen. Hospitals throughout the country have several safeguards in place to prevent these mistakes, including:
- Mandatory “timeouts” to make sure everything matches in the operating room
- Counting sponges and other equipment before and after procedures
- Using checklists
- Marking surgery sites with ink
But sometimes, human errors still allow easily preventable mistakes to happen. In about 2/3 of surgical errors, the surgeon involved had been cited in at least one previous malpractice report. It’s important to hold these negligent medical professionals liable for their mistakes so victims can get the support they need and so others aren’t harmed by similar errors in the future.
What To Do After Suffering A Surgical Error
If you or a loved one has recently discovered health complications related to a surgical error, it’s important to understand your legal rights. Our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers are experienced in these types of claims and can help you plan for your next steps in a free consultation. We advise taking legal action as soon as possible in order to make sure you meet Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations. Additionally, filing a claim notifies healthcare facilities that one of their physicians has made an easily avoidable mistake like a surgical error, which can help prevent others from suffering similar complications.