As we highlighted in yesterday’s post,
surgical errors continue to put patients at risk, despite efforts to hold hospitals more
accountable. In fact, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins researchers,
surgeons make over 4,000 preventable mistakes every year.
The study examined “never events” that are always preventable.
They include retained foreign bodies in patients, surgery on the wrong
site, surgery on the wrong patient, or the wrong surgical procedure carried
out on the right patient.
In the 9,744 cases examined by the researchers, more than 6 percent of
patients died, while 32.9 percent suffered permanent injury. Retention
of foreign bodies was the most common surgical error, making up almost
half of all cases (49.8%).
Los Angeles Times reports, California hospitals are not immune to these errors. In fact,
they have reported more than 850 incidents involving retained foreign
bodies in the last five years, according to the state’s Department
of Public Health. Four of the ten hospitals fined by the agency last month
were penalized for leaving surgical items—from sponges to syringes—
Even more alarming, the study’s lead author, Martin Makary, believes
that the study likely underestimates the problem, as many patients never
file claims after errors. In addition, many mistakes may go undetected.