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Medical Malpractice-Surgical Errors

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

In my last post, I indicated the five most common types of medical malpractice cases brought because of serious medical errors that profoundly affect the lives of patients.  In this post, I will examine the problem of surgical error. 

There may be many forms of surgical errors including inappropriate or unnecessary surgery, anesthesia problems, wrong-site surgeries, post-operative infections and leaving foreign objects (including medical instruments) inside the body cavity.

According to a report published recently by the National Institute of Health,

“Approximately 400,000 hospitalized patients experience some type of preventable harm each year.

  • Depending on the study, medical errors account for over $4 billion per year.
  • Medical errors cost approximately $20 billion a year.
  • Medical errors in hospitals and clinics result in approximately 100,000 people dying each year.
  • Medical errors typically include surgical, diagnostic, medication, devices and equipment, and systems failures, infections, falls, and healthcare technology.
  • Missed diagnoses or injuries from medication are common in outpatient settings.
  • Most malpractice claims in hospitals are related to surgical errors, whereas most claims for outpatient care are related to missed or late diagnosis.
  • Slightly more than half of the paid malpractice claims are related to outpatient care.
  • To decrease overhead, hospitals often reduce nursing staff; staffing of RNs below target levels is associated with increased mortality.”

All of these factors contribute to a healthcare system that requires vigilant monitoring and appropriate solutions to stem the tide of surgical errors.

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