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Young surgeons possibly at risk for medical malpractice

Mistakes by hospital workers continue to be a problem among Oregon hospitals. Hospital staff negligence can have serious, life-threatening consequences for patients. Indicative of this problem are the findings of a study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University and the Oregon Health and Science University.

Researchers found that younger and less-experienced surgeons are more likely to make surgical errors because they are more prone to distraction. The findings were based on a simulated environment in which surgeons could be distracted by various factors. Noises, questions and conversation were used to see the response among participating surgeons.

Nearly half of the 18 surgical residents made serious errors in the study. The errors were more likely to occur in the afternoon hours, although fatigue didn’t seem to be an issue. Only one surgeon made a mistake with no distractions.

While the young surgeons were trying to perform a procedure, a cell phone would ring followed by a metal tray dropping to the ground. Necessary conversation was held and other distractions were used. Questions that interrupted the surgeons caused the most serious errors — such as damage to organs and arteries. Background conversation was the second leading cause of errors.

It is hoped that the study will help identify the reasons surgical mistakes happen and how to prevent these mistakes in the operating room. These types of mistakes can cause a broad range of problems for the patient. Anyone who has been the victim of a surgical error or other medical mistake may be entitled to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice.

Source: Outpatient Surgery Magazine, “Younger Surgeons More Prone to Mistakes Due to Distractions,” Stephanie Wasek, Dec. 4, 2012