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Surgical errors present a serious risk to patients

Having surgery is an anxiety provoking situation for many people with medical issues. There are risks associated with all medical procedures and there is no guarantee that something will not go wrong during a surgery. Although advances in technology have made medical procedures safer, human errors, made by either surgeons or other members of the medical team, can cause serious problems for patients.

California Department of Health fines local hospitals

In December 2012, the California Department of Public Health fined ten California hospitals for surgical errors that caused patients either serious injuries or death. Totaling $785,000, each of the ten hospitals individually received a fine ranging anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000.

The incidents considered in examining the amount of medical errors were only those that either caused or were likely to cause death or serious injury of the patient, suggesting that many more errors occur that result in less serious injuries to patients. The incidents resulting in the fines included everything from leaving a surgical sponge inside of a patient to removing the wrong kidney from a patient.

The Department issued the fines in hopes that the penalties will ensure that hospitals and their employees will be more careful in their procedures, and in hopes that the publicity received will bring awareness of the issue to the entire healthcare industry.

Study shows that medical mistakes during surgery happen too frequently

The California Department of Health's action against the ten hospitals, although alarming, is not surprising. Unfortunately, the medical industry seems to be replete with medical mistakes that are due to simple human errors. The most common of such mistakes include leaving objects inside the patient's body, operating on wrong part of the patient's body, or even operating on the wrong patient altogether.

A recent study conducted by the journal Surgery shows that medical mistakes occur all too frequently. The study, conducted by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that medical mistakes occur at an average of 500 times per year.

However, the study was conducted using data from paid malpractice claims. Of course, it is difficult to keep tract of how many unsuccessful claims have been litigated, and almost impossible to quantify the amount of medical error incidents that go unreported. Therefore, it is safe to say that this already startling statistic underestimates the actual number of medical errors made.

Life-threatening mistakes shouldn't be taken lightly

Medical providers must be more cautious in the services they render, as even the smallest mistake can lead to serious injury or even death of a patient. If you or your family member has been the victim of a medical error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can discuss your available options. Negligent doctors and the healthcare facilities may be held liable for malpractice. An injured patient and his or her family may be entitled to compensation for their losses.

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