Surgical errors are among the most common types of medical malpractice. According to an article in the LA Times, pervasiveness and catastrophic impact of surgical errors has resulted in a number of new laws and regulations in recent years. For instance, in 2007, California began requiring hospitals to report certain errors and fining them if the mistakes killed or seriously injured patients. The following year, Medicare stopped paying hospitals for the costs associated with certain surgical errors and, in 2011, Medicaid stopped paying to correct certain preventable medical errors.
Despite the good intentions of the new laws and regulations, surgical errors continue to persist. The LA Times reports that about 2,000 patients in the U.S. have surgical material inadvertently left inside their body each year following an operation. The surgical errors have occurred during all types of procedures, including knee replacements, caesarean sections, and gallbladder surgeries. The most common item left inside a patient’s body following an operation is a surgical sponge, but needles, gauze, and medical instruments have also been left inside patients.
Some experts believe that the surgical mistakes continue to happen because hospitals lack effective procedures, practices, and protocols for preventing the errors. In order for surgical errors to be reduced, all parties – including hospitals, doctors, and nurses – must work together to minimize the likelihood that surgical errors occur.
New technologies can also help. For instance, some surgeons use sponges with a bar code that must be scanned at the beginning and end of a surgery so that all sponges are accounted for and none are left inside the patient. Other doctors use a wand that is waved over a patient at the end of the surgery to detect sponges with radio frequency identification tags.
Legal remedies are available to patients who suffer from surgical error, typically in the form of a lawsuit for medical malpractice or wrongful death, both of which require the patient to show that the doctor was negligent in administering medical care. An unfortunate result alone is not always grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit; however, the very nature of a surgical “never event” means that negligence or intentional wrongdoing was likely present since the medical community considers the mistake to be one that should never occur.
If you have been injured as a result of a surgical errors, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago surgical error lawyers at Ankin Law Offices, LLC at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.