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Understanding surgery malpractice risks

New York readers might be interested in a report about surgical errors. Between 1998 and 2007, the number of wrong-site surgeries increased from 15 to 592. Many North American surgeons had performed operations that put patients at more than minimal risk.

For instance, some surgeries occurred in a place other than a designated operating room. Many of these scenarios involved operating on the wrong patient, performing a procedure on the wrong side of the body or using the wrong procedure. This is often the case for operations performed in an endoscopy unit, interventional radiology suite or other specialty unit.

Some surgical errors within this period caused serious physical injuries and psychological problems. Some situations even resulted in death. Statistics showed that wrong-site surgery incidences occurred most often in orthopedic, podiatric, urological, neurosurgical and general surgery categories.

Although rare, wrong-site surgeries seem to be more prevalent than originally anticipated, and research suggested that only about 10 percent of wrong-site surgery cases may be reported. However, state licensure boards are issuing stiff penalties for surgeons who make these kinds of mistakes. Medical boards also began using research data in an attempt to eliminate all wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure cases. Another objective of medical teams is to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits and eliminate patient harm.

Medical centers have ways to prevent injuries from medical malpractice. However, patients might still need advice about how to win a cash settlement if they received the wrong treatment. They could receive compensation for corrective treatment to reverse health complications, pain and suffering, lost work wages and other related costs.

Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, "Causes and Consequences of Wrong-Site Surgery", September 19, 2014

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