According to projections based on a 2010 report from the Department of Health and Human Services, infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical injuries contribute to the deaths of 180,000 hospital patients each year. Another 1.4 million are seriously injured by their hospital care. Alarmingly, these figures only apply to Medicare patients. What happens to other patients is less clear because most hospital errors go unreported.
Medical negligence has become one of the leading causes of death in the United States. If a loved one was a victim of malpractice and died as a result, you deserve proper compensation for your emotional pain and suffering. While the results of a medical malpractice lawsuit will not bring back your loved one, it can help you better manage the effects of their passing. Contacting a malpractice lawyer can help you determine if you have grounds for a medical malpractice case. We can also help you if you were a victim of substandard medical care that resulted in an injury or illness.
Types of Medical Errors
There are many different types of medical errors that can occur during surgery. Any of these can have severe consequences for you as a patient.
The most common types of surgical mistakes include:
- Hospitals operating on or treating the wrong patient: If your identity is mixed up with someone else’s, you could be given the wrong surgery. This can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering as well a longer hospital stay.
- Surgical souvenirs: Surgeons and staff occasionally miscount or fail to count equipment during surgical procedures and may leave behind tools or other objects. The New England Journal of Medicine found that about 1,500 Americans have objects left inside of them following surgery every year.
- Air bubbles in the blood: If you have a chest tube removed incorrectly and your chest isn’t sealed, air bubbles can enter the wound and cut off blood supply to your lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain. This is a life-threatening event.
- Doctors operating on the wrong body part: Surgeons can misread your chart, surgical draping can cover marks made on your body to indicate where the surgery is to be performed, and various other types of mistakes can lead to the wrong body part being operated on.
- Look alike medical tubing: Unfortunately, many varieties of medical tubing are interchangeable and easily connectable. This means that it is very simple to misconnect a feeding tube to an intravenous line, or IV fluids to an oxygen tube. With nurses working overtime or covering too many patients at once, it is all too easy to connect a tube improperly, often times leading to a fatal outcome for the patient. There have been reported cases where a spinal anesthetic used for pain relief during childbirth was mistakenly put into a vein, killing the patient. In another instance, a healthy young pregnant woman and her unborn daughter died after a feeding tube was mistakenly connected to an intravenous line, sending the liquid food directly into her veins.
- Unclean or unsanitary procedures: Hospital-acquired infections are alarmingly common and sadly they can be deadly. In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections each year and a whopping 100,000 people die as a result.
- Waking up during surgery: If you receive an under-dose of anesthesia, your brain may be “awake” even if you can’t move your muscles. Unable to move or speak, you may still feel the surgery taking place, resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering.