Surgical Errors Drive Medical Malpractice Claims

According to Fierce Healthcare, surgical errors are the second leading cause of medical malpractice claims against doctors. This information comes from the liability insurer Coverys, which looked at five years’ worth of malpractice claims. Alleged surgical errors accounted for roughly 1 in 4 medical malpractice claims. This was second only to diagnostic errors, which comprised roughly 1 in 3 malpractice claims.

Common Surgical Errors

Many things can go wrong with surgery. However, Coverys found that nearly 80% of malpractice claims for surgical errors stemmed from inadequate performance on the part of the surgeon. For example, a surgeon could nick a healthy organ or cause excessive bleeding. A surgeon could also leave an implement behind or make some other error in the operating room due to a lack of technical skill.

Of course, errors can be made in all phases of surgery. A doctor could fail to adequately inform a patient of their options before wheeling them into the operating room. Doctors can also make mistakes regarding planning or during follow-up.

General surgery was most likely to lead to a malpractice claim, comprising 22% of claims. Other specialties at risk for a malpractice claim include orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. These three accounted for nearly 50% of all medical malpractice claims.

Serious Injuries

Surgical error can lead to injuries both large and small. About 30% of the claims analyzed were for “permanent significant” injuries, such as disability. Almost 10% of claims were for the death of a patient, which is always a red flag that something might have gone wrong in the operating room.

Surgical error can cause permanent disability but might also require corrective surgery, which is expensive and carries many complications. Many patients who survive a botched surgery need extensive rehabilitation and ongoing care.

Should Operating Rooms Use a “Sterile Cockpit” Approach?

Reducing malpractice claims is a key goal for insurers like Coverys. One focus has been on reducing any distractions in the operating room, such as irrelevant conversations that can take someone’s attention away from the task at hand. Other recommendations include keeping visitors out of the operating room and turning of cell phones—which we hope is happening already!

The report recommends operating rooms become like the sterile cockpits used in the airline industry, where pilots and other crew are prohibited from having side conversations during landing and takeoff.

Contact a Miami Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Surgical errors will continue to happen, and injured patients and their family members need a seasoned malpractice attorney in their corner to fight for the maximum compensation. To schedule a consultation with Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein LLP, please call 305-371-2692.