Any patient who undergoes surgery assumes some risk of suffering an injury or illness due to an error, but we also expect surgeons and supporting medical providers to follow accepted standards of care to minimize that risk. However, a lack of guidelines and carelessness can result in a patient being seriously harmed.
According to Patient Safety Network, one of the most prevalent causes of surgical errors have been termed "wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient" (WSPE). This includes:
- Operating on the wrong side of a patient's body (59 percent)
- Operating on the correct side of the patient's body, but the wrong site (23 percent)
- Carrying out the wrong procedure (14 percent)
- Operating on the wrong patient (5 percent)
A recent investigation reveals a chilling lack of oversight
An investigation by Kaiser Health News and USA Today found that surgery centers across the United States are highly unregulated - leaving enough loopholes in oversight for fatalities and serious injuries to go under the radar. This investigation came on the heels of several deaths just months apart at Kanis Endoscopy Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.
While federal regulations require hospitals to report patient deaths, there is very little oversight over surgery centers. In at least 17 states, surgery centers aren't required to report deaths to health facility officials. Additionally, doctors barred from hospitals for misconduct or hit with strict sanctions are able to open their own surgery centers, sometimes within the vicinity of hospitals.
Unlike hospitals, surgery centers are more likely to limit the amount of outcome data available to the public. They are also less likely to place scrutiny on surgical errors that result in fatalities so future deaths can be prevented.
Negligent surgeons should be held accountable
A 2012 report by WebMD states that over 4,000 preventable errors in surgery occur each year. They found that some of the most common errors between 1990 and 2010 included:
- Leaving foreign objects, such as sponges or towels, inside a patient's body
- Performing the wrong procedures on patients
- Operating on wrong body sites
A patient who is in serious need of surgery should be able to place his or her trust in a doctor. Furthermore, doctors running surgery centers are obliged to uphold their duty of care. When they fail to do so, they should be held accountable.
An attorney at the Law Office of Mark E. Salomone will fight to hold negligent doctors accountable. If you lost a loved one during a surgical procedure, contact us today and find out how we can help you.