Surgical Residents and Medical Mistakes That Harm Patients

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Most of the time, experience really matters.  According to a new study, no more so than when it comes to avoiding serious surgical errors.

Researchers at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota recently published the findings of their study, which examined 10 years’ worth of medical malpractice cases.  More specifically, these medical malpractice lawsuits involved surgical residents – new physicians training to become surgeons.

The study’s 87 surgeries involving interns or residents were performed between 2005 and 2015.  All included some sort of serious error that led to a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Almost half resulted in a settlement or verdict for the plaintiff, either the victim or the victim’s surviving family.

$900,000 Median Medical Malpractice Financial Compensation

The highest financial compensation awarded in the surgical error cases was $32 million.  The median award was $900,000.  Sixty seven of the 87 patients either died or were permanently disabled due to surgical error or errors.

Most of the surgeries that led to the medical malpractice financial compensation were elective in nature.  That is, they were planned in advance and not performed under emergency situations.  These elective-surgeries-gone-wrong included:

·         General surgery – 54 percent of the medical malpractice claims

·         Orthopedic – 21 percent of the medical malpractice claims

·         Gynecologic – 13 percent of the medical malpractice claims

Mistakes Made by Surgeons in Training

The majority of the claims – 51 percent - resulted from poor decisions made outside the operating room.  And of these injuries, 64 percent occurred in post-op and 36 percent in surgical prep.  Mistakes made during surgical procedures accounted for 39 percent of the medical malpractice litigation.  The remaining 10 percent of the cases experienced medical mistakes both in and out of surgery.

Ten of the medical malpractice lawsuits over surgical errors involved instances when the surgical residents failed to evaluate the patient before making a key medical decision.  In those, the average financial compensation to the victims was $1.2 million.

Experienced surgeons, however, played a role in more than half of the medical malpractice lawsuits.  Poor supervision of the residents by the attending physicians was cited as a contributing factor in 48 of the surgical error cases.

Regardless of level of physician experience, patients and their families should expect a proper standard of care before, during, and after a surgical procedure.  If those standards aren’t met and the patient suffers, all responsible parties should be held accountable.

If you had a family member die as a result of surgery, or you suffered serious harm from what may have been medical negligence, contact a medical malpractice attorney to review your case.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog September 8, 2017


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