According to recent studies in the journal of Surgery in December 2010, U.S. surgeons make more than 4,000 errors each year. These errors are termed “never events” because they should have never happened. “Never events” include mistakes such as leaving a sponge in the body before the suture (???) or operating on the wrong part of the body.
A Wall Street Journal article written by Laura Landro, titled “Surgeons Make Thousands of Errors,” further reveals that despite the national effort to improve surgical safety, researchers identified 9,744 malpractice payments tied to surgical “never events” between September 1990 and September 2010. The total malpractice payment for these settlements was $1.3 billion.
This article looks deeper into the statistics by identifying that over 6% of the patients died, 32.9% had permanent injury and 59.2% suffered temporary injury. Despite the efforts to lower these numbers, at least 4,082 mistakes actually occur each year in the U.S.
The article quotes the lead author of the study, associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, Martin Makary, as saying that these “estimates are likely low; previous studies have shown that many patients never file claims after errors. And not all items left behind after surgery are discovered. Typically, they are found only when a patient experiences a complication after surgery, such as an infection, and efforts are made to find out why.”
Hospital Response to Increasing Surgical Mistakes
In response to these alarming numbers, hospitals have made drastic changes to create programs to reduce the number of surgery mistakes. According to the Wall Street Journal, surgeons are now required to take “timeouts” before surgery to make sure they have the right patient and to make sure they will be operating on the right body part.
Hospitals also use new technology, such as bar coding and wand like scanners, which are waved over the patient, to allow the surgical team to account for all the spongers and tools used during the procedure. Additional preventive steps include indelible ink to mark the site of the surgery before the patient is put under anesthesia.
Contact a New York Injury Lawyer
At Gersowitz, Libo & Korek, P.C., our New York Medical Malpractice Lawyers are experienced in handling medical malpractice claims and getting our clients the compensation they deserve. If you have questions about a potential malpractice claim where you were injured by a medical provider, call Gersowitz, Libo & Korek, P.C. at 800-529-9997 to schedule a complimentary consultation with New York City Malpractice Attorneys.