Surgical Errors Continue to Persist in High Numbers

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The recent report published in the Archives of Surgery in October 2010 paints a grim picture regarding surgical errors. According to the report, there is a “persisting high frequency of surgical ‘never events,” or errors that are entirely preventable and should never occur, despite the fact that hospitals must abide by a universal protocol of procedures intended to prevent these types of mistakes. The universal protocol requires that three critical steps be performed prior to surgery: (1) a pre-procedure verification, (2) marking the correct surgical site, and (3) a “time-out” for the operating stuff just before the surgery.

Despite the procedures intended to safeguard against “never events,” researchers found 25 incidents of wrong-patient procedures and 107 incidents of wrong-site treatments over a six-year span. The report was based on data drawn from an insurance database in Colorado that included more than 27,000 adverse events self-reported by Colorado doctors between 2002 and 2008.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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