When you are told about your upcoming surgery, you are usually told that the risk of complications is low. A new study from John Hopkins Medical school shows that the risk may not be that low – in fact, complications related to surgical mistakes may be more common than anyone expected.
The authors of the study looked at the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal database of medical-malpractice judgments and out-of-court settlements. They identified 9,744 malpractice payments related to surgical errors, including: leaving an object inside a patient, wrong-site surgeries, wrong procedures, and wrong-patient surgeries that occurred between 1990 and 2010. These types of errors are known as “never events” because they are completely preventable and should never occur in medicine.
- 9,744 surgical errors;
- 4,853 cases of foreign objects left in the body
- 2,446 cases of wrong procedures
- 2,446 cases of wrong site surgeries
- 29 cases of wrong patient surgeries
- 6 percent (585) of patients died from the mistake
- 32.9 percent (3205) were left with permanent injuries
- 59.2 percent (5768) suffered temporary injuries
Payments totaled $1.3 billion with an average settlement of $133,055. The costliest mistakes were wrong procedures with a median settlement of $106,777.
However, a pervious study found that only about 12 percent of surgical errors result in medical malpractice payments. By using this figure, the research team was able to estimate that approximately 4,082 surgical mistakes actually occur in the U.S. each year. But this figure may be low.
Dr. Martin Makary, the lead author of the study, said that many surgical mistakes are never discovered. For example, when an object was left in the body, it often remains undiscovered until there are complications. Makary estimates that as many as 33 percent of sponges left in the body during surgery may never be found.
The study was published in the December 2012 issue of the journal Surgery.
What should you do if you were injured by a surgical error in Texas? The first step is to request a free copy of Dallas medical malpractice attorney Jeff Rasansky’s book, The Epidemic of Medical Mistakes & Understanding Your Rights. Then contact the Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-405-4313 and learn how you can receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.