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Study finds errors in half of all surgeries

Surgical errors are a reasonable thing for Massachusetts residents to be concerned about. When the need to undergo a surgical procedure arises, patients should be able to trust in the competency of their medical teams. Family members also should be able to know that their loved ones' health and lives are being properly handled.

Past reports studying the rate of surgical errors involving medications showed a relatively small percentage of problems. These reports, however, relied upon data supplied by the providers. A new study instead relied upon direct observation and found something quite different. The study, which was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, reports that errors occurred in one out of every two surgeries performed. The study looked at procedures before, after and during actual operations.

The errors involved side effects that were not planned as well as medication errors. Roughly one third of the errors were deemed to have been potentially harmful to patients and nearly 70 percent of those were identified as serious. From wrong diagnoses to medication labelling mistakes, the problems left many patients facing potential injury due to the actions or lack thereof of their health care providers.

News reports like this should make patients take note. Proactivity in one's health care is important but when a person is undergoing a surgery, there is sometimes little that they can personally do to protect themselves. Talking with an attorney about a potential surgical error may help to give victims and their family members ideas about how they can be compensated for such mistakes.

Source: Albany Daily Star, "Previous Estimates of Medication Errors in the Operating Room Have Relied Doctors' Own Estimates.--High Point Daily Science," April 10, 2016

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