Surgical Errors

It comes as no surprise to those of us who are medical malpractice attorneys in Tennessee or elsewhere around the Nation, but this article, "Surgeons Make Thousands of Errors,"  (subscription required) does a great job of identifying problems that arise in the operating room.

The article reports that surgeons make such mistakes more than 4,000 times a year in the U.S.  The article is based on a study led by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published online in the journal Surgery.

The study, relied on data in the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal repository of medical-malpractice judgments and out-of-court settlements,and examined cases involving leaving an object inside a patient, wrong-site surgeries, wrong procedures and wrong-patient surgeries.

The study found  9,744 cases of mishaps  between 1990 and 2010.  How were patients affected by these errors?  The study reports that just over 6 percent of patients died, 32.9 percent had permanent injury and 59.2 percent suffered temporary injury, according to the researchers. 

The researchers estimate that at least 4,082 mistakes actually occur in the U.S. each year.  This estimate was based on  the number of paid claims and a prior study that estimated that only 12 percent of surgical adverse events result in indemnity payments,

Martin Makary, a doctor from Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study,  said his team’s estimates are likely low; previous studies have shown that many patients never file claims after errors.

Unlike some complications in medicine, the surgical mistakes are "totally preventable," according to Makary.