On last month’s World Patient Safety Day, the World Health Organization reported that globally, 2.6 million people die every year from medical errors. In the United Sates, researchers estimate that medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.
Common deadly medical errors include misdiagnosis, wrong site surgery, and mistakes with medications. But a new report sheds light on another leading cause of medical mistakes that harm patients: medical devices.
The ECRI Institute is a 50-year-old organization focusing on protecting patients from unsafe medical technologies. The group notes that four out of every five hospitals in the United States consults with the independent, nonprofit agency.
In October the ECRI Institute published a report (“Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2020”) that identifies what it views are the most serious medical technology threats to patient safety in the upcoming year.
Defective Medical Devices
While technology is a cornerstone to quality medical treatment, defective medical devices can hurt patients, often critically. Sometimes the defects rest with the manufacturing process. But also, healthcare providers may use medical devices incorrectly, which places their patients in peril.
That’s why the number one medical technology hazard on the ECRI Institute list is surgical staplers.
The dangers of surgical staplers came to light earlier this year when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified nearly 110,000 adverse events with surgical staplers, going back to 2011. The FDA linked 412 patient deaths to surgical staplers, as well as 11,000 serious injuries.
In March the FDA issued a letter to healthcare providers warning them of the patient dangers from defective surgical staplers. Those dangers included the stapler misfiring, deforming the staples just before firing, and a failure to fire the staple.
It also noted incidents of healthcare providers misusing the staplers, such as stapling the wrong tissue or using the wrong size staples.
Serious Patient Harm from Surgical Staplers
According to the FDA, defective surgical staplers or the incorrect use of staplers that are in good working order has led to the death of patients and such serious, life-threatening harm as:
· Sepsis infection
· Increased risk of cancer recurrence
· Internal bleeding
· Tearing of internal organs and tissues
Another surgical device on the ECRI Institute of dangerous medical technology is surgical robots. The organization doesn’t necessarily warn against surgical robots themselves but how they are used by surgeons and hospitals. The group reports that surgeons are employing them for a growing variety of procedures, many of which pose potential patient risks that have not yet been thoroughly studied and weighed by surgeons.
When patients are harmed by preventable medical errors, such as administering medication in the wrong dose or giving the right medicine to the wrong patient, those who make the mistakes should be held accountable. The same is true when they use defective medical devices or needlessly use them in a dangerous manner.
If you lost a loved one or you were seriously hurt during medical care and you believe a mistake by healthcare providers is to blame, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog October 11, 2019