Surgical errors occur more often than many patients would expect. Preventable
mistakes, such as wrong-patient, wrong-site, and wrong-procedure errors,
occur more than 4,000 times per year.
2012 study by researchers with Johns Hopkins University found that a surgeon in the United States leaves a foreign object, such
as a surgical sponge, inside a patient’s body after an operation
39 times a week, performs the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times a
week, and operates on the wrong body site 20 times a week.
Many surgical errors result in serious harm. In the Johns Hopkins study,
six percent of the mistakes were fatal, while 32 percent resulted in permanent
injury and 59 percent resulted in temporary injury. Unfortunately, doctors
and healthcare facilities don’t always disclose surgical errors
or take responsibility for their mistakes.
To help patients hold surgeons accountable, several states are currently
considering legislation that would allow patients to request that their
procedures be videotaped. In Wisconsin, a recently proposed bill would
require healthcare facilities to give surgical patients the option of
recording their surgical procedures. In New York, a proposed bill would
require that all operating rooms be equipped with cameras that could be
used to record surgeries at the patient’s request.
Both pieces of legislation are named after patients who suffered fatal
surgical errors. In Wisconsin, Julie Ayer Ribenzer, a 38-year-old woman,
received a fatal overdose of the drug propofol during a breast implant
surgery. In New York, 19-year old Raina Ferraro went into cardiac arrest
and died after doctors negligently administered her anesthesia.
Although the video recordings could shed light on why surgical errors occur
and potentially prevent future mistakes, the medical industry is largely
opposed to such measures. Accordingly, it is unclear if such legislation
could ever become law in California. We will continue to monitor the issue
and provide updates as they become available.
If you or someone you love has suffered from medical negligence, don’t
contacta San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.