The medical liability insurer Coverys analyzed thousands of malpractice claims that were closed between 2014 and 2018 and found that a quarter of them were surgery-related. This made surgery-related claims the second most common type of malpractice claims after diagnosis-related claims at 32%. New York residents should know that, in all, there were 2,579 surgery-related claims in that five-year period.
Seventy-eight percent of these claims involved practitioner performance during the surgery. In 7% of cases, patients had a foreign object left in their body. Unnecessary procedures, 4%, and delays in surgery, 3%, were also cited. As for what surgical fields were most affected, they include general surgery with 22% of claims, orthopedic surgery with 17% and neurosurgery with 8%. In 29% of the claims, the patients suffered “significant permanent” injuries. Nine percent involved the patient’s death.
Errors can occur before and after surgery, which is why the authors of the Coverys report say that physicians should ensure greater participation on the part of patients when it comes to making decisions. Surgeons should thoroughly record the informed consent discussions. During the surgery, everyone should strive for a distraction-free environment. Non-essential duties should not interfere with the surgery since this is a high-risk procedure. Visitors should not be allowed, nor should music be playing in the OR.
Those who have been injured by a surgical error can file a medical malpractice claim, but they may want a lawyer to assist them with each step. It could be difficult, after all, to gather evidence that the doctor failed to live up to an objective standard of care. Victims must also show that there was a pre-existing doctor-patient relationship and that they followed all the doctor’s instructions. A lawyer may be able to negotiate on a client’s behalf for a fair settlement that covers medical expenses, lost wages and more.