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Examining hospital procedures may reduce surgical errors

Dec 31, 2012 | Surgical Errors

A new study has revealed shocking new information about surgical errors. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, surgical instruments are left inside patients close to 40 times each week. Sadly, when surgical errors occur, such as instruments being left inside a patient, people can suffer severe complications.

One man knows firsthand how serious a surgical error can be. A 21-year-old man was shot in 2006 while playing basketball with friends. He was left paralyzed, but doctors were able to repair his damaged kidney. However, years later, a scan revealed that surgeons had left a surgical sponge in the young man’s body. He was forced to undergo another operation to remove the sponge.

While health officials say this kind of surgical error is rare, one surgeon says hospital procedures must be examined to prevent these kinds of mistakes from happening in the future.

"You can’t just go to the individual nurses, or the individual doctors," a surgeon said. "You have to address the practices. Unless the hospitals change the practices of both, we will continue to have retained surgical items."

Going in for surgery can be a frightening experience for patients whether they live in New York City or elsewhere. However, most people are reassured by the fact that qualified physicians will be performing the operation. Sadly, it appears even some of the most experienced surgeons can make mistakes.

Patients who have suffered complications as a result of a surgical error would be wise to explore whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is appropriate. A successful malpractice suit may alleviate financial burdens. It may also provide victims with a sense of justice by holding negligent medical professionals responsible.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Medical field works to reduce number if surgical mistakes," Anna Gorman, Dec. 23, 2012