Many people may be shocked to learn that medical errors are now considered the third leading cause of death each year in the United States. An eight-year study conducted by John Hopkins University concluded that more than 250,000 deaths every year are the result of medical errors.
The research team also concluded that the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collects national health statistics fails to classify medical errors separately on victims’ death certificates.
Medical death rate data from 2000 to 2008 was used by the John Hopkins researchers. Using this data along with data from hospital admission rates, they found that almost 10 percent of all deaths were the result of medical errors. Using the CDC statistics on cause of death, medical errors came in third, surpassing chronic respiratory disease deaths (149,205). Heart disease is number one, causing approximately 611,000 deaths and cancer is number two, causing 585,000 deaths each year.
The study also found that thee are more than 4,000 avoidable surgical errors committed each year by negligent medical staff. These errors range from minor to catastrophic or fatal. Some of these surgical errors are deemed so avoidable that they are called “never events” because they should never have occurred. It is estimated that surgical errors result in more than a billion dollars in medical malpractice awards to victims and their families each year. Some of the more common surgical never events that happen include:
- Leaving a surgical instrument inside the patient’s body
- Operating on the wrong part of the patient’s body
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Performing the wrong procedure on the patient
- Death of an otherwise healthy patient
How Often Do Surgical Errors Occur?
The education and training required to become a surgeon are intense – four years of college, four years of medical school, and three to eight years of surgical residency. All of this training is supposed to teach surgeons how to avoid major surgical errors. Yet thousands of patients are injured because of careless surgical errors. In fact, it is estimated that surgeons leave foreign objects (i.e. sponges, tools, towels) inside patients about 40 times per week, resulting in excruciating pain, dangerous infections, and other medical complications.
Some of the more common causes of surgical errors are:
- Inadequate or poor communication between medical staff resulting in the incorrect body part operated on or other preventable surgical errors.
- Failure of medical staff to perform a complete and thorough preoperative plan on the patient. This should include all information regarding the patient’s medical history.
- A member of the surgical team under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- A member of the surgical team suffering from extreme fatigue because of lack of sleep. Surgeons, nurses, and other medical staff are often required to work long shifts without regular breaks.
- Inadequate training or incompetence on the part of a member of the surgical team.
Call a Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney
Virginia injury law allows victims to pursue financial compensation for the losses they have suffered due to the actions of medical staff. These claims can be pursued through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Victims can be compensated for their additional medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more. If the victim dies as a result of the medical negligence, their family can pursue for their wrongful death.
Surgeons can be held responsible for failing to ensure everyone on their surgical team had the training and experience to meet the expected standard of care. The medical facility where a surgical error occurred may also be held responsible for failing to ensure the surgeon met his or her duty to practice safely or for failing to provide the surgeon with the training, staff, and tools needed to protect the patient.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are often much more complex than other types of personal injury cases. First of all, physicians have malpractice insurance and therefore will have a team of attorneys fighting against the victim’s claim.
The legal team at Shapiro & Appleton has successfully represented many clients and their families who suffered serious injury or illness because of the negligence or carelessness of a doctor or other medical staff.
Our Virginia medical malpractice attorneys understand the overwhelming stress these types of mistakes can have on families and work diligently to obtain financial compensation because of the harm victims suffered when medical staff failed to provide the necessary medical treatment. Call 800-752-0042 for your free case evaluation and to find out how we can help.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.