Inexcusable Surgical Mistakes Continue

Outrageous surgical “errors” continue to maim and kill patients throughout Georgia and the United states despite requirements that hospitals and doctors abide by a standard set of procedures to prevent surgical mistakes.
These errors include operating on the wrong patient or the wrong body part.
This inexcusable problem is highlighted in a new study in the Archives of Surgery. The data was drawn from an insurance database in Colorado that included 27,370 self-reported incidents from 6,000 physicians from 2002 to mid-2008. Doctors in the insurance plan receive incentives for early reporting of adverse events.
In one case reported, a chest tube was inserted into the wrong lung, the healthy one, causing it to collapse, killing the patient. In other cases, surgeons removed a healthy ovary, operated on the wrong side of the brain, fused the wrong vertebrae and did procedures on the wrong eye, knee, foot, elbow and hand.
Surgeons reported performing 25 operations, including three prostatectomies, on the wrong patient, as well as 107 procedures on the wrong body part. The mix-ups often started in the internist’s office.
Past estimates suggested that such mistakes occurred once in every 110,000 procedures, but the paper’s lead author said the incidence might not be so rare, and might even have increased.
The lead author, a surgeon , described the findings as “shocking” and “unacceptable.”
It is interesting that this finding, by a panel of surgeons, comes at a time during which doctors groups, hospitals, large insurers, and some politicians, are attempting to curb the rights of citizens to recover damages for even these outrageous events.

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