The most common reason for medical malpractice claims is misdiagnosis, accounting for 32 percent of all medical malpractice claims, according to a recent study. In that same study, surgical errors came in a close second, accounting for 25 percent of claims.
Many surgical errors unfortunately end with serious injuries to patients. Almost 30 percent of all surgical errors ended with an injury that medical professionals described as permanent and significant. Close to 10 percent of alleged incidents resulted in the patient’s death.
Among surgical errors, more than three out of four claimants alleged that the surgeon made a mistake during the operation. These mistakes were most commonly due to a technical failure on the part of the doctor or some poor decision-making in the operating room.
However, close to 15 percent of claims involved what are sometimes referred to as ‘never events’, such as leaving a foreign object in the patient’s body or operating on the wrong body part.
Different types of surgeries also have different rates of error. The broad category of general surgery accounted for over 20 percent of all claims, and orthopedic surgery accounting for over 15 percent of claims.
When combined with brain surgery, these types of operations account for around half of all medical malpractice claims alleging surgical error.
Filing a medical malpractice case after a surgical error can be complicated. For one, the doctor and hospital may try to explain away the bad result as just an unfortunate but ultimately unpreventable outcome.
It may take the help of someone with knowledge both of the law and of the medical profession for a Seattle-area patient injured in surgery to obtain the compensation he or she deserves.