Surgical errors behind alarming number of malpractice claims

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Coverys has a report out showing that surgical errors are the second most common reason for malpractice claims in Texas and across the U.S. The medical liability insurer analyzed all of its claims that were closed between 2014 and 2018 and found that surgical errors were behind 25% of them. Thirty-two percent were due to diagnostic errors, making these the leading cause.

In all, 2,579 claims during that five-year period were surgery-related. The three areas where these errors were most common were general surgery (22% of claims), orthopedic surgery (17%) and neurosurgery (8%). Twenty-nine percent of the claims resulted in serious and permanent harm to the patient while 9% ended in the patient’s death.

As for the cause of these errors, 78% of claims were related to practitioner performance. Thirty-nine percent clearly blamed a lack of technical skill on the part of the practitioner, and 27% had to do with a failure in clinical judgment and/or communication. It was clear that the pre- and post-surgical stages could also lead to a malpractice claim.

The report goes on to recommend various ways that hospitals can improve the outcome of surgeries. One was to involve the patient more in the decision-making process and to carefully document all informed consent discussions. Another was to create a distraction-free OR.

Victims of a surgical error may seek compensation for the treatments they underwent, the physical and emotional pain they incurred, and other losses. However, there are several requirements that must be met, so victims may want a lawyer to help them build up their case. The lawyer may have independent medical experts conduct an investigation of the case prior to providing testimony at a trial.