Leading U.S. Medical School Says Surgical Errors Occur 4,000 Times Per Year In This Country

No less authority than Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimates that surgical errors happen at least 4,000 times each year in the United States.

Researchers at the prestigious Baltimore institution conducted a study on surgical error in this country. The findings, recently published in the medical journal “Surgery,” are eye-opening.

The researchers examined medical malpractice claims between 1990 and 2010 that resulted in financial settlement or judgment for the patient and found that over 80,000 events that should never occur in surgery – referred to as “never events” – did indeed happen.

Major Surgical Errors Happen Weekly in the United States

Based on the data they examined, the researchers concluded that:

• Surgeons leave foreign objects inside their patients at least 39 times per week

• Surgeons perform the wrong surgical procedure or surgery on the wrong body part approximately 20 times per week

And 62 percent of the surgeons who committed a surgical error included in this survey were found to have done so more than once.

Researchers uncovered more than 9,700 paid medical malpractice claims during the study’s 20-year period. Of those claims, 6.6 percent of the patients died due to surgical errors while almost a third (32.9 percent) were permanently injured. By incorporating their data with the findings of a previous study that calculated the percentage of medical malpractice claims resulting in payment, the study’s authors estimate that 4,082 surgical errors occur each year across the country.

Actual Number of Surgical Errors Likely Even Higher than Reported

Researchers added that the number of foreign objects left inside patients might be even higher since there are instances in which items are never found, and because there are victims of surgical errors who don’t file a medical malpractice claim.

If you or a loved one has been a victim of surgical error or other types of medical malpractice, it is your legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries or loss.