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Surgical errors may lead to malpractice claims for Oregonians

Readers of our Oregon medical malpractice blog are aware that preventable medical mistakes happen at all level of health care. Mistakes by pharmacists, family doctors, nurses and surgeons happen on a daily basis. New findings related to surgery errors and hospital negligence were recently released, and the numbers tell a surprising story.

Around 80 times per week, American patients experience surgical mistakes that many believe should never happen. The estimate is from a review of medical malpractice claims resulting in settlements and judgments between 1990 to 2010. The information is collected by the National Practitioner Data Bank, which houses a federal database of malpractice claims.

The term “never events” is used by the medical industry to describe mistakes during surgery which should never happen. These mistakes include performing the wrong surgery on a patient or on the wrong body part. Errors such as leaving surgical instruments inside patients are included. Although hard to fathom, never events also include performing surgery on the wrong patient.

A review of 10,000 cases involving never events resulted in $1.3 billion in settlements. The average payout for these types of errors totaled $133,055. Most cases did not result in serious harm to patients, however permanent injury occurred in multiple cases.

These types of mistakes may be rare, but the researchers’ findings show that they do happen. For this reason, Eugene residents who have experienced a surgical error should know that they may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible parties. Recovery for costs such as medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering are possible in many cases.

Source: American Medical News, “Surgical errors: In Ors, ‘never events’ occur 80 times a week,” Kevin B. O’Reilly, Jan. 21, 2013