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Surgical errors are still very prevalent according to study

Massachusetts residents may be alarmed to learn of a recent study led by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The study revealed that surgical errors which could have been easily avoided are quite prevalent. In fact, the researchers who conducted the study tabulate that over 4,000 such mistakes are made every year by surgeons across the U.S.

Out of these mistakes, the researchers identified specific recurring mistakes that were particularly common. One mistake, leaving a foreign object in a person's body after surgery was reported to occur in 49.8 percent of the medical malpractice payments over a 10-year period. Another common mistake is when a surgeon performs the wrong procedure on a patient. This occurred in 25.1 percent of the medical malpractice settlements over the same time period. Finally, surgeons who operate on the wrong body part is also a common medical malpractice claim, and occurred in 24.8 percent of the payments for medical malpractice that were analyzed. The research study revealed that during that same 10-year period, from 1990 to 2010, $1.3 billion was paid out for medical malpractice claims involving these kinds of avoidable medical mistakes.

Although new tools exist to avoid these kinds of errors, like scanners that can detect foreign objects left in the body, or a special ink to mark the correct surgical site, many hospitals have not invested in this new technology. Tragically, the study confirms that many medical mistakes are never reported and these statistics are probably much higher. Out of the 9,744 cases that the researchers identified between 1990 and 2010, 59.2 percent of the individuals operated on suffered temporary injury, 32.9 percent of the individuals were left with a permanent injury and over 6 percent of the surgeries actually resulted in death.

Any individual who is the victim of a surgical error or other form of medical malpractice may be able to seek compensation for injuries. Such compensation may include reimbursement of medical expenses, reimbursement for lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.

Source: Fox News, "Thousands of surgical errors happening with 'alarming frequency'," Dec. 21, 2012

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