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Surgery errors are 2nd-leading cause of malpractice complaints

Medical mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer, according to a report by Johns Hopkins. Research shows at least 250,000 people die from these mistakes every year.

Most medical malpractice lawsuits result from diagnosis errors – about one in every three – while surgery-related claims are responsible for 25% of all cases filed each year. Those figures are from a study by insurer Coverys, which analyzed data from 2014 to 2018.

Top three surgical specialties targeted

Of the nearly 3,000 cases studied in the report, three types of surgery made up roughly half of all claims. They are:

  • General surgery – 22%
  • Orthopedic surgery – 17%
  • Neurosurgery – 8%

Top five allegations against surgeons

Researchers found that one out of every ten claims resulted in the death of the patient, while 29% caused injuries that were considered “permanent significant,” or worse. The top five reasons for lawsuits were:

  • 78%: Surgeon’s performance
  • 7%: Foreign body left in the patient
  • 4%: Surgery was unnecessary
  • 3%: Operation was on wrong side or body part
  • 3%: Surgery delays

A lack of communication and distractions are factors

The research highlighted weaknesses at each level of the surgical process from initial consultations through the recovery stage and offered suggestions to improve patient outcomes. First, doctors must ensure that patients are fully informed and share in the decision-making process.

Researchers also emphasized that operating rooms must be distraction-free zones, which means limiting conversations during procedures, turning off cellphones, banning music from being played as well as prohibiting unnecessary visitors and observers.

Patients have a right to receive high-level care

If you are injured or become seriously ill, you put all of your trust in the knowledge and professionalism of a surgeon or other physician, a clinic, hospital and first responders, such as paramedics, who are charged with delivering a “normal standard” of care.

But all too often, inadequate training, negligence, staffing shortages and other carelessness can result in serious injuries or even death. A medical malpractice attorney with experience in complex cases here in Illinois will protect your rights and fight for the damages you deserve.