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New study finds surgical "never events" occur 4,000 times annually

While many procedures occur without complication, a new study indicates that serious surgical errors - often referred to as "never events" - happen more frequently than previously believed.
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    February 28, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- When lifesaving procedures are necessary, patients put their trust in the sure hands and sound judgment of surgeons. While many of these procedures occur without complication, a new study indicates that serious surgical errors - often referred to as "never events" - happen more frequently than previously believed.

Patient safety researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical School examined data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, a federal repository of information about medical malpractice claims from across the country, to track the incidence of serious surgical errors between 1990 and 2010. Specifically, researchers looked for suits and settlements related to:

- Retained foreign bodies (i.e., a surgeon leaves a sponge or other object in a patient)

- Wrong site surgeries, where a surgeon performed a procedure on the wrong part of a patient's body

- Wrong procedure surgeries, where a surgeon performed the incorrect procedure on a patient

- Wrong patient surgeries, where a surgeon operated on the incorrect patient

Overall, researchers identified 9,744 instances of these sorts of surgical errors over 20 years. Just over 6 percent of patients died, 32.9 percent were permanently injured and 59.2 percent experienced temporary injury.

The researchers estimate that surgeons in the U.S. leave a sponge or other foreign object in patients 39 times each week, perform the wrong procedure on patients 20 times each week and operate on the wrong body site 20 times each week. This means that these sorts of errors occur approximately 4,000 times in the U.S. each year.

In many hospitals, safety procedures are already in place to help prevent these sorts of errors. For example, some hospitals have mandatory "time outs" before surgery begins where the surgical team must confirm that the surgical plan and medical records they have match the patient they have on the table. Surgical teams will also mark the site of surgery with indelible ink before surgery begins to make sure they are performing the correct operation. Many surgeons also use equipment checklists to ensure that all equipment is accounted for before a procedure is concluded. Nevertheless, despite these safeguards, accidents still happen.

A medical malpractice attorney can help

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse or other medical professional, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney can help you, contact a lawyer today.

Article provided by Ronald J. Bua & Associates
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