Surgical Errors & Med Mal: What Else Can Be Done?

Side Note: Wrong-site, wrong-person surgeries are totally preventable –in theory. What we are finding is that despite “universal protocols,” and massive education efforts, major, even deadly, surgical errors are still occurring in alarming numbers. What are we learning about this physician liability?

In 2006, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality requested that a study be done to determine the number of wrong-site surgeries. Reviewing data from one medical malpractice insurance carrier from 1985 to 2004, they found out that wrong-person, wrong-body part, or wrong-procedures were performed in one out of 112,994 procedures.

This report, combined with the Joint Commission introducing a “universal protocol” in 2004 for surgery, should bring proper focus to the problem, right? The protocol developed uses various processes and procedures to ensure that wrong-site/body part/procedures don’t take place. How is it going, you may ask?

Well, the problem is that even the best, most well-designed protocols have one problem –they need to be followed by humans. A recent study published in the Archives of Surgery found that the errors were still occurring, and tried to determine why. The results were not that surprising: one hundred percent of the cases had communication errors take place and errors in judgment also occurred in 85% of cases. While no one would debate that better communication is key, it is tough to know exactly what to do next to reduce this medical malpractice liability. Suggestions?

Are you a surgeon looking to lower your physician liability insurance rates? If so, Cunningham Group may be able to help. Complete our free, no-obligation quote request today.

Surgical Errors Continue Even With Improved Safety Measures
Posted: July 9, 2011

Surgery in ProgressJuly 09, 2011 /24-7PressRelease/ — In 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality commissioned a study to determine the prevalence of wrong-site surgeries.

The report examined wrong-site surgeries reported to a medical malpractice insurance carrier between 1985 and 2004, finding that surgeries are performed on the wrong person, wrong body part or using the wrong procedure once in every 112,994 operations. With the proper protocols, the study also found that wrong-site surgeries are completely preventable.

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