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Surgical mistakes are more common than you might think

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Going to the hospital is supposed to fix what ails you, still it seems that with each subsequent study comes more and more evidence that the contrary is sometimes true. Researchers have a name for when things go wrong: they call them “never events.” These are events that should never happen, that we certainly hope would “never” happen to us or to anyone we know.

Still, the data are disconcerting. One analysis estimates that every week:

  • Objects like towels and sponges are left in the body of a patient 39 times.
  • Surgeons do the wrong surgery 20 times.
  • The wrong part of the body is operated on 20 times.

The statistics only get more alarming:

  • Upward of 4,000 surgical never events happen each year and the medical malpractice suits end up totaling over $1.3 billion.
  • Of those injured, 33 percent were permanently injured, 59 percent were temporarily injured and 6.6 percent died as a result of the error.
  • The age group most affected were those from 40 to 49 years of age.
  • The most alarming statistic? Researchers believe these numbers don’t reflect the real number of surgical mistakes that happen each year, because many end up going unreported.

Those victims who are left permanently disabled from a surgeon’s error may be stuck with ongoing medical bills, a loss of wages and the pain and suffering from an interrupted life. If they feel that their injury was due to negligence, they may be able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation with the help of an attorney.

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