New Study Shows Medical Malpractice Is Alive And Well In The U.S.
Cleveland, OH (Law Firm Newswire) February 1, 2013 - A new study of medical malpractice claims indicates surgeons leave foreign objects in a patient or perform the wrong procedure far too often.
“Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine released a report recently that shows medical malpractice is far more prevalent than once thought, which is depressing news for patients,” suggested Christopher Mellino, a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer. The study covered a time frame from September 1990 to September 2010, and it may be found online in the Surgery Journal.
Lately, the media has been full of reports that the medical community is focusing more on getting a handle on medical malpractice, hoping to reduce its impact on patients. The news has often carried the announcement that various hospitals are implementing various protocols to avoid harming their patients. The public has been lulled into a sense of well-being about medical malpractice being on the decline. This recent study blows the lid off what is referred to as ‘never events.’
A surgical never event is an adverse outcome that is clearly identifiable, measurable, serious and typically preventable. To put it a bit more bluntly, a never event never should have happened if those performing the surgery had paid attention to what they were doing.
“The National Practitioner Data Bank was the source of this recent study, and it was culled for examples of medical negligence and compensation paid to patients that were harmed by a medical professional,” Mellino explained. There were 9,744 malpractice payouts made as a result of surgical errors during the 20-year period covered by the study.
The most common errors made during surgery, were leaving a foreign object inside a patient, which ranked at 49.8 percent, performing the wrong procedure coming in second at 25.1 percent, operating on the wrong site at 24.8 percent and operating on the wrong patient at 0.3 percent. Shockingly, there are approximately 4,082 medical malpractice events every year; a number that may be too low, as not all adverse events are discovered or reported.
Over the 20-year period medical malpractice payments that could be tracked amounted to $1.3 billion. The human cost was far higher though, leaving 6.6 percent of the patients in the study dead, 32.9 percent of them with a permanent injury and 59.2 percent with a temporary injury. “If doctors learned from their mistakes, and some of them do not,” added Mellino “these numbers could drop. However, the report showed that 12.4 percent of the same doctors had more than one never event. This is why medical malpractice lawyers are needed to help victims of medical malpractice.”
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