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Study: post-surgical medical mistakes more common than you think

Rhode Island residents who have undergone surgery or know someone who has may be interested in this latest study which claims that post-op patients recovering from surgery should expect upwards of four or five medical procedural mistakes during their hospital recovery. And even more alarming - half of the mistakes have the potential to cause them serious harm. Although the study was not conducted in the United States, one U.S. doctor who specializes in patient safety said the study's findings are symbolic of what transpires in teaching hospitals in the U.S.

The study was conducted by researchers at Imperial College London with patients being monitored at a "large gastro-intestinal surgery center" over the course of a two-year period. The most likely failures in the care processes ranged from the administering of medications, giving patients instructions and communicating test results. In more than 50 percent of the instances, serious problems occurred because of the failures. The main take home message here is that our current system of patient safety is simply inadequate, said the U.S. doctor.

In an effort to get to the heart of the problem, numerous studies have been conducted on hospital errors with much of the research focused on one particular type of error or only errors that have a direct negative impact on a patient. This study followed the hospital care of 50 patients between 2008 and 2010 all of whom underwent prescheduled surgeries on their digestive tracts, most of them involving cancer. The average stay in the hospital was 11 days and daily observations were made by researchers who were monitoring how well the hospital staff followed standard procedures.

Of the 352 mistakes identified, 256 of them were due to "process failures," according to the U.S. doctor who commented on the study for the article. A culture of safety rather than using checklists or other safety protocols may go farther in preventing medical malpractice and common healthcare mistakes. Anyone harmed by the medical negligence or malpractice of a healthcare provider does have the legal right to seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: Reuters, "Study finds errors in post-surgery care are common," Kerry Grens, Oct 2, 2012

Our Rhode Island personal injury law firm handles all manner of medical malpractice cases, including surgical errors, medication errors and hospital negligence similar to the issues discussed in the above post.

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