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Mistakes in surgery are still very common

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Over the past several decades, scientific advances have revolutionized surgery, making procedures possible that were unthinkable in the past. Most surgeons are highly trained, conscientious and methodical as they conduct these procedures, helping patients regain their mobility and even their lives. Sadly, surgery errors are still all too common and the unfortunate victims of these botched procedures are left maimed, and sometimes dead. Researchers refer to these as “never events” in other words, things that should never happen.

But they do. In fact, the numbers are staggering. In one major study conducted over 20 years, researchers found that over 4,000 preventable surgical errors occur every year in the United States, including:

  • Operating on the wrong area of the body 20 times a week.
  • Performing the wrong surgery 20 times per week.
  • Leaving a foreign object (such as a towel or a sponge) inside the patient?s body 39 times every week.

Of the victims affected by these accidents, 59 percent were temporarily injured, 33 percent were left permanently injured and 6.6 percent died as a result. The injuries and deaths led to nearly 10,000 malpractice judgements and more than $1.3 billion in claims.

The scariest part of the study? Researchers feel that these numbers are at the lower end of the scale because they represent only the reported incidences ? thousands more could be unreported.

Thankfully, those affected by these tragedies do have recourse. Medical malpractice attorneys specialize in looking at cases of surgery errors and may be able to help victims fight for compensation.

Source:, “Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year,” Jennifer Warner, Dec. 26, 2012

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