The medical liability insurer Coverys published a report revealing the top causes of medical malpractice claims. Illinois residents who are about to undergo surgery should know that surgical errors came in second after diagnostic errors. The insurer analyzed the claims filed with them and closed between 2014 and 2018. Researchers found that surgery-related claims composed 25% of these (32% were diagnosis-related).
This came to a total of 2,579 surgery-related claims. As for the nature of the error, 78% were related to practitioner performance during the surgery. Others concerned errors that were made during the decision-making process before surgery as well as post-surgical care. While 39% of claims alleged a lack of technical ability on the part of the defendant, 27% argued a failure in clinical judgment and/or communication.
Half of the claims were in the fields of general surgery (22%), orthopedic surgery (17%) and neurosurgery (8%). Some surgeons were accused of leaving a foreign body inside the patient (7%), performing an unnecessary procedure (4%) and causing a harmful delay in surgery (3%).
The report states that one way to reduce surgical errors is to make the OR distraction-free. Patients should also be involved in pre-surgical care through shared decision-making. Informed consent discussions must be thoroughly documented in the medical records.
Many a surgical error is caused by the doctor’s failure to live up to an objective standard of medical care — in other words, negligence. When patients are injured as a result of this, they can pursue medical malpractice claims. With help from an attorney, a victim may be able to gather all the evidence needed to argue a case and strive for a fair amount in damages. The attorney could speak for them at the negotiation table.