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Never again: new medical study reveals alarming surgery mistakes

Surgery is one of the most important and nerve-wracking medical procedures a person can undergo. Under sedation and under the knife, patients' future well-being is completely in the hands of their surgeons and supporting staff. While the majority of operations result in a healthier future life, serious cases of medical malpractice during surgery are taking place at an alarming rate across the nation.

A new study released late last month by Johns Hopkins University has homed in on the significantly high frequency of "never events" taking place in surgery rooms across the country, including those in Louisiana clinics and hospitals. Identified by medical professionals as universally negative and undesirable mistakes in surgery, these never events befall patients an estimated 4,044 times each year.

Some of the study's findings are both incredible and frightening. Johns Hopkins researchers estimated that a foreign object, such as a sponge or towel, is left inside a patient's body after operation 39 times a week in America. 20 times weekly the wrong procedure is performed on a patient, and another 20 times the wrong body site is operated upon.

Painting a broader picture, the study has estimated that 80,000 never events have taken place in America over the last two decades. Most of these surgical malpractice instances befell patients ages 40 to 49, with surgeons of the same age range being involved in one third of never event cases.

Although recommendations such as mandatory "timeouts" between operations and a more reliable barcode accounting system for surgery materials have been proposed, these and other surgical mistakes will unfortunately continue to put trusting patients at risk of further injury or ailment.

Medical malpractice such as this can lead to very serious damage, even death. If a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or technician's mistake leads to further hardship for a patient, action can and should be taken. Working closely with an attorney versed in wrongful death, injury, and medical malpractice law can help victims and their families gain compensation for the hardships experienced on account of a medical error.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical, "Johns Hopkins Malpractice Study: Surgical 'Never Events" Occur At Least 4,000 Times Per Year," Dec. 19, 2012

• 'Never events' should never go unaccounted for. For more information on how to pursue a malpractice claim, contact our Lake Charles medical malpractice law page.

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