An analysis of surgical errors in the United States that was reported in the medical journal Patient Safety in Surgery in 2014 found that between 46% and 65% of adverse events that occur in hospitals are related to surgery (especially with regard to complex surgical procedures).
A 2012 study undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore analyzed almost 10,000 medical malpractice cases between 1990 and 2010 and estimated that 4,082 medical malpractice claims each year were for “never events” (defined as particularly shocking errors, such as wrong-site surgery, that should never occur), resulting in death in 6.6% of patients, temporary injury in 59.2% of patients, and permanent injury in 32.9% of patients. The total cost of such medical malpractice claims was $1.3 billion.
Statistics Regarding Surgical Errors In The United States
The number of times per week that a surgeon leaves a foreign object in a patient: 39
The number of times per week that a surgeon performs the wrong procedure on a patient: 20
The number of times per week that a surgeon operates on the wrong surgical site: 20
The estimated number of operating room fires each year in the United States: 600
The number of surgical site infections in 2013: 157,000.
Efforts To Reduce Surgical Errors In The United States
The National Surgical Quality Improvement Project (“NSQIP”) is a national effort overseen by the American College of Surgeons to help reduce surgical errors in U.S. hospitals by gathering and analyzing surgical complication data from about 600 U.S. hospitals. It is estimated by NSQIP supporters that if all U.S. hospitals participated in NSQIP, 2.5 million surgical complications would be avoided, 100,000 deaths would be prevented, and the costs savings would be in excess of $25 billion each year.
Ten hospitals in Tennessee that participated in NSQIP between 2009 and 2012 collected data on more than 55,000 surgical procedures performed in those hospitals and analyzed the data regarding rates of 17 types of surgical complications, finding that since 2009, surgical complications have been reduced by almost 20% and at least 533 deaths have been avoided, along with cost savings in the amount of $75.2 million.
A similar effort by the VA to reduce surgical errors led to a 47% reduction in postoperative death rates between 1991 and 2006.
Nonetheless, two studies published in February 2015 found that surgical outcomes in U.S. hospitals have generally improved in recent years whether or not they participated in NSQIP, and an analysis of billing claims data involving NSQIP-participating hospitals and those not participating in NSQIP found no statistically significant differences in surgical complications (including death).
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of a surgical error, surgical mistake, surgical complication, or the negligence of a surgeon in the United States, you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your surgical claim (medical negligence claim) for you and represent you in a surgical malpractice case, if appropriate.
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