A recent survey has shown that surgical errors have become one of the leading causes of medical malpractice cases claiming negligence on the part of the medical care provider. According to a study published by the Journal of American Medicine, serious surgical errors occurred in roughly 1 in every 10,000 operations. With more than 51 million surgeries conducted throughout 2014, this means that these events occurred in over 5,000 procedures last year.
Major surgical errors happen more often than most people want to think about. These surgical errors include wrong-site surgery, retained surgical items, and burns from surgical fires. These errors can have life-changing consequences for patients and in some cases can be lethal. The medical profession has attempted to reduce these incidents through the implementation of the Universal Protocol, a series of checks and verification measures for surgeons and operating room personnel.
The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) estimated that surgical and other medical errors caused approximately 400,000 deaths in 2014. That makes medical errors the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. The study found that the leading cause of surgical errors is poor communication. The study concluded that better training, communication, and stricter adherence to the established Universal Protocol could have prevented many of these incidents.
Wrong-site surgeries are the most preventable form of medical malpractice in the operating room. Before performing surgery, the Universal Protocol requires medical professionals to verify the site location, clearly mark the site, and identify all of the instruments and medications required for the procedure. Roughly 650 fires occur in operating rooms each year, some as the result of malfunctioning equipment, but most are attributed to the misuse of equipment and failure to adhere to safety protocols.
In recent years, regulators and hospital personnel have relied upon improved communication and electronic health records to reduce surgical errors. Unfortunately, those efforts haven’t been effective, as errors within electronic records are following patients into the operating room. Until a solution is found, these avoidable incidents will continue to happen, affecting the lives of patients and their families.
While its difficult for a patient to avoid suffering a surgical or other medical error, patients can reduce their risk by inspect their medical records for accuracy and verifying procedures and treatments with their medical providers. If you believe that you have suffered a surgical error due to the negligence of a medical professional, you should contact a personal injury attorney to help you file a claim.