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Surgical errors are a serious concern for victims

Greater than 4,000 surgical errors occur each year that could be prevented. The costs of the surgical errors is $1.3 billion in medical malpractice claims. The surgical errors are considered preventable because, according to researchers, they should never take place. They include mistakes such as performing the wrong procedures or leaving a sponge inside the patient's body after the surgery is completed.

When wondering how significant the problem may be, researchers looking at a 20-year time period estimated that foreign objects like sponges or towels were left in the bodies of patients following the completion of surgery 39 times each week, the wrong surgical procedure was performed on patients 20 times each week and the wrong-site surgery errors occurred 20 times each week. Wrong-site surgery refers to an operation performed on the wrong area of the patient's body or the wrong patient may also be operated on.

One expert noted that the occurrence of surgical errors and related medical mistakes is alarming. While researchers estimate approximately 4,000 of this type of medical error occurs each year, many cases are believed to go unreported. Of the reported cases, 59 percent of patient victims suffered temporary injuries while, 33 percent suffered permanent injuries and 6.6 percent resulted in death. The consequences of surgical errors and medical malpractice can be significant and emotionally, physically, and financially costly for victims.

It is important for patients to protect themselves when seeking medical care and is equally important for victims of medical malpractice to understand the protections available to them when harmed and to be able to seek those protections when needed. Medical malpractice legal protections are available to help victims and families recover compensation for the harm they have suffered when needed.

Source: WebMD.com, "Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year," Jennifer Warner, Dec. 26, 2012

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