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The high risk of surgical errors

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2017 | Medical Malpractice

At the Law Offices of Mathys & Schneid in Illinois, we understand that having to undergo surgery is a very significant event in your life. All surgical procedures, even those described as minor or routine, have known risks. Sometimes, however, a surgery “goes bad” for reasons having nothing to do with known risks.

For instance, medical negligence and/or substandard care can result in a wide range of avoidable patient injuries during or following surgery, including the following:

  • Reaction to anesthesia, its improper administration, or the use of the wrong anesthesia
  • Perforation or other damage to internal organs
  • Damage to a healthy body part because the operation was performed on the wrong limb or organ
  • Postoperative infections brought about by unsterile conditions, leaving a surgical instrument or other object inside the patient, inadequate postoperative monitoring, and other preventable medical errors

Doctor-specific surgical errors

ProPublica recently did an analysis of the complication rates of 17,000 U.S. surgeons. Using Medicare data on elective surgeries, what they found was that about 11 percent of the surgeons accounted for approximately 25 percent of the complications. Many of these surgeons had complication rates double and triple the national average. Many worked at highly regarded hospitals and medical centers. They also found that neither the government nor a majority of hospitals track the surgical complication rates of individual surgeons, making it difficult if not impossible for you to make a realistic informed decision on which surgeon you want to perform your operation and at which hospital you will receive the best care.

The American College of Surgeons says that surgeons are responsible for all aspects of their patients’ care from preoperative examinations and tests to postoperative monitoring. If you are a prospective surgical patient, it makes good sense to do your research and “shop around” for the best surgeon available for your type of operation. Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions. Or as one person in ProPublica’s study put it, “I’d rather be a difficult live patient than a compliant dead patient.” For more information on this subject, please visit this page on our website.