Medical malpractice numbers are too high

We see them all the time on TV shows, but we assume that’s just part of the Hollywood drama. A surgeon makes a mistake in the operating room and spends an hour wrestling with the consequences. He pushes over chairs and bangs on the X-Ray machine while someone comforts him. The issue leads to some drama, then the credits roll and we turn the TV off. Next week, it’s like it never happened.

We assume these things are dreamed up by writers for entertainment, but in fact, there’s more truth to that storytelling that most of us would like to believe. In fact, according to WebMD, thousands of surgical errors occur every year in America, and that is not even including those that occur in Canada.

Those errors—4,000 in total—are not just any errors either, those are preventable errors. A preventable error is one made that should, under normal circumstances, be completely avoidable. Had the surgeon been as careful as she should have been, or had the preparations been done as they are meant to be done, no mistake would have been made.

These mistakes can be pretty astounding. In the same article, it lists the statistic that in an average week, 39 surgical implements are left inside people. 20 times in that same average week, a surgeon performs the wrong procedure. And a further 20 times, a surgeon performs the right procedure, but on the wrong person.

These mistakes are not just bad for their own sake, they can lead to serious harm for individuals or even death.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that the area of medical malpractice has arisen as an important field of law in recent decades. Medical malpractice suits have led to $1.3 billion being handed over from hospitals and doctors to those injured by these mistakes in surgery.

Even more concerning than all that has already been written here, researchers believe the numbers are actually quite a bit higher.

Interestingly, the age group most likely to suffer from these mistakes are those between 40-49. This is also the age group for the surgeons who made a third of all the mistakes. That means surgeons in the middle of their careers are more likely to make these sorts of mistakes than those at either the beginning or end.

Further, it seems that there is an issue with some surgeons being repeat offenders, as many as 12% made more than one error during the time of the study.

The results of this study are disturbing, to say the least. More must be done to make sure surgeons are equally careful with every surgery. The consequences of their mistakes are too dire to allow such high numbers to continue.


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