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Common Causes of Surgical Errors, Part 2

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Surgical errors, while sadly common, are nonetheless dangerous and devastating. A surgical error can take months or years to be properly diagnosed and can even result in death. A prior post discussed two major causes of surgical errors: wrong-site surgery and retained foreign objects. This post will address the remaining three: infections, falls and medication errors.

About 1 in 20 patients who are hospitalized will develop an infection during their stay. Infections are a major killer, claiming around 98,000 lives a year. Infections, while in a way inevitable, are nevertheless generally caused by poor hygiene practices among the doctors, nurses and other surgical staff. That means something as simple as gloves or washed hands could save someone’s life.

Another major cause of injuries are falls. Patients are subjected to intense doses of medications and anesthetics which reduces their balance and coordination. This makes patients very reliant on the hospital staff. Many patients are not property secured onto operating tables, wheel chairs and gurneys and often slide or fall off. Doctors and medical staff often move your body during surgery. Additionally, patients are known to shift while unconscious. That is why it is critical that the surgical team securely strap you onto the table.

Finally, medication errors are another major problem in hospitals. Doctors often prescribe the wrong medication, nurses administer it incorrectly or patients misread instructions. According to a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine, almost 100,000 emergency hospitalizations of U.S. adults over 65 are caused by adverse drug effects.

Most surgery / medical mistakes are preventable, like falls and medication errors. Some cannot be prevented no matter how many safety precautions are undertaken, like infections, but the risk can be managed and reduced.

If you were injured due to one of these common surgical errors then you may want to speak to a lawyer. These injuries can cause serious medical issues months or even years after the surgery. An attorney can help you determine if you will need additional medical assistance and how to extrapolate likely expenses. This will allow you to collect an appropriate amount in compensation from the people that injured you.

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