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Ways orthopedic surgeons can avoid lawsuits

Oct 21, 2015 | Surgical Errors

There are many risks associated with orthopedic surgeries. A recent study has noted that nearly 50 percent of malpractice lawsuits filed by orthopedic patients were based on allegations of improper surgical performance, while 16 percent were due to allegations that the patient was improperly cared for during or after the surgery. Orthopedists in New York and throughout the country may benefit from some findings on how those risks could be reduced.

To begin with, surgeons should do all they can to avoid a wrong-side or wrong-site surgery, which is a top concern among patients. This includes carefully monitoring the patient’s process and ensuring hospital staff is aware of the procedures. In the event of a preventable complication, Medicare will likely penalize the provider and refuse coverage resulting from the error.

It is also important that medical staff personnel communicate with each other because good teamwork can effectively reduce the number of patients who die from a surgical error. For instance, a nurse who recognizes a change in the patient’s condition and relays the information to the surgeon prior to the surgery could help to reduce surgical complications.

Another way in which medical claims can be avoided is to keep communication between patients and medical staff open following the surgery. Because the chances for complications are particularly high immediately following a surgery, it can be especially effective for a physician’s staff to carefully hear a patient’s complaints and be alert to any threatening medical condition. In fact, a nurse who makes post-surgery calls to patients recovering at home may be able to uncover any abnormal complications the patient may be experiencing.

Those who suffer severe complications during or after a surgical procedure due to a surgeon’s mistake will often have to face additional medical expenses and lose additional time from work. A medical malpractice attorney may find it advisable to file a lawsuit on behalf of such a patient seeking compensation from the negligent party or parties for the damages that have been sustained.

Source: Becker ASC, "11 key strategies to reduce orthopedic surgery complications — And resulting claims", Laura Dyrda, Oct. 16, 2015