Investigators published a research article this month that analyzed the occurrence of surgical errors in United States hospitals. The doctors estimate that dozens of medical mistakes occur every week during surgery. For example, surgery tools or other objects may be left inside of a patient nearly 40 times every week according to the study. Surgeons operate on the wrong patient and/or the wrong part of a patient another 40 times each week. A top medical malpractice lawyer in New York with expertise in the field of surgical mistakes notes that this is likely an underestimate. Advocates for patient safety explain that many hospital errors are not even reported and are just covered up. The recent research article based its statistics on cases of surgical error that led to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The cases studied showed that a very high percentage of the medical malpractice victims either died or suffered permanent injuries due to the errors. Some doctors and nurses complain that the systems currently in place in many hospitals create a culture that allows for medical mistakes. They feel that no one cares enough to correct the dangerous situation in order to improve patient safety. Many nurses report being afraid to report doctor mistakes or situations that could lead to patient injuries. Hospital administrators often do not encourage reporting of patient errors unless they are likely to end in a medical malpractice case against the hospital. Hospital safety advocates say that they will continue to work on the problems in order to prevent the errors, injuries and wrongful deaths. Find out more about surgery errors and how to prevent them here.
Photo by Ruhrfisch [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons