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Surgical mistakes continue to cause death, injury to patients

When residents in Providence are told that they need surgery, they may wish to examine the surgical error rate for the hospital where the surgery will take place. Surgical mistakes continue to occur in hospitals in and around Rhode Island and might actually be increasing.

A nearby state has released a new report from its Department of Health showing that in the year 2011, hospitals there committed a number of mistakes in surgical procedures -- more, in fact, than in 2010. It is thought that the increase could be related to the focus hospitals in the state are now placing on reporting such errors, but this is not certain.

The data in the report indicates that there has been a rise in the number of patients who have died or suffered permanent damage in relation to a careless surgeon or some other type of surgery error. For example, the number of patients who died increased to 21 people during 2011. In 2010 the number of surgery-related deaths was 16. The same pattern is shown in wrong-site operations. There were eight surgeries in 2010 where the surgeon operated on the wrong area of the body. In 2011, that number rose to 13.

Whether the numbers in the report are due to an increase in reporting or to an increase in surgical mistakes, they should be of concern to hospitals and patients alike. Patients put their life in the hands of a surgeon and his team and when a mistake is made, the patient is the one who suffers.

Source: Hartford Courant, "Surgical Errors Climb, Bed Sores Decline In State's Hospitals," Lisa Chedekel, Dec. 31, 2012

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