The medical liability insurer Coverys has come out with a report listing the top reasons for malpractice claims. After analyzing claims closed between 2014 and 2018, it found that 2,579 claims or one fourth of all the claims were surgery related. California residents should know that only diagnostic claims topped the surgery-related ones, accounting for 32% of all the claims.
Among those surgical claims, 29% involved a “permanent significant” injury, and 9% ended in death. As for the most impacted fields, they were general surgery (22% of claims), orthopedic surgery (17%) and neurosurgery (8%).
Some failure in the surgical practitioner’s performance was highlighted in 78% of the claims. Seven percent of claims involved a foreign body being left in the patient’s body. Unnecessary procedures (4%), procedures on the wrong side, site or patient (3%) and harmful delays in surgery (3%) were also relatively prominent.
Errors can arise at any stage of the surgical process, sometimes, because of a lack of communication. Patients should be able to participate fully in the pre-surgical process, and surgeons, for their part, should document the informed consent discussions in the medical record. Even more importantly, the operating room should be free of all distractions. This should mean, among other things, no music, no visitors and no phones ringing.
Surgical errors, even when they do not end in significant injuries, can still leave patients with a financial burden. After all, they may have undergone the wrong procedure. There’s also the fact that many victims of malpractice suffer emotionally as a result. With a malpractice claim, these and other losses could be accounted for though it takes a lot of effort to negotiate for a fair settlement. For assistance, victims may turn to a lawyer who may start by giving a case evaluation.