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Surgery mistakes that should "never" happen continue to occur

It may not always be an easy decision to undergo surgery. But patients in New Jersey likely turn to the advice of a doctor or medical professional and trust them when surgery is recommended. For the most part, this trust is well founded but there continue to be instances of negligence. Medical malpractice is especially frustrating when it stems from so-called "never" events, meaning mistakes that should never ever happen.

A recent study at John Hopkins University stated that almost 10,000 of these "never" mistakes occurred over the last 20 years. These surgeon errors included foreign objects left behind in a patient following surgery, wrong-site surgery or even the wrong surgery or procedure entirely.

Researchers used data from medical malpractice claims that reside in a national database. There were 9,744 malpractice lawsuits during this time involved the "never" events but that doesn't compare to the 80,000 major surgical errors during the same 20 years. The implications of these errors are disheartening. Roughly seven percent of patients died and one out of three sustained permanent damage.

The cost of these doctor errors is not cheap. The mistakes are estimated to have cost $1.3 billion for the healthcare industry. And a scary thought is that the numbers are probably lower than actually occurred since many patients choose not to file a claim or lawsuit.

The good news is that these "never" mistakes are preventable. It takes a cohesive team of doctors and medical staff and communication between the professionals to ensure that any issues are addressed. If there is a breakdown in communication and a mistake occurs due to the negligence of the medical staff, an injured patient retains the ability to file a lawsuit and recover compensation for his or her injury.

Source: New Jersey Newsroom, "Study: "Never" surgery mistakes still happening to patients," Bob Holt, Dec. 22, 2012

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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