Johns Hopkins University Study Finds Thousands Of Preventable Surgical Errors Occur Each Year

A recently released study led by Dr. Marty Makary, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, attempts to quantify the number of instances of medical malpractice that occur each year in the United States. The study approximates that roughly four thousand surgical “never events” each year across America. “Never events” are occurrences for which there is universal professional agreement that they should never happen during surgery.

The extent and scope of the professional malpractice the study estimates to occur on a weekly basis is staggering. The study calculates that nationwide, surgeons leave a foreign object inside a patient following an operation thirty-nine times each week, perform an incorrect procedure on a patient twenty times each week, and operate on the wrong body part twenty times each week.

The study further estimates that eighty thousand never events took place in U.S. hospitals between 1990 and 2010, but the actual number of such incidents may be higher. Even more unsettling is the fact that this study only addresses never events, as the number of less egregious medical errors is certainly even higher. Indeed, an Institute of Medicine study from 1999 reasoned at least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die each year in hospitals due to preventable medical errors.

The study used the National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”), a federal database of JHH Study Blog.jpgmedical malpractice claims, to identify almost ten thousand paid malpractice judgments and claims over between 1990 and 2010. This information was then used to estimate that 4,044 surgical never events occur in the United States each year. Over the twenty year period covered by the study, medical malpractice judgments and claims totaled $1.3 billion, with deaths occurring in 6.6% of patients, permanent injury in 32.9%, and temporary injury in 59.2%.

According to Makary, “There are mistakes in health care that are not preventable…But the events we’ve estimated are totally preventable. This study highlights that we are nowhere near where we should be and there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Med Mal Law
All medical professionals and institutions, whether they be doctors, nurses, or hospitals, owe a professional and legal duty to their patients to act with a certain level of care. When a medical professional or institution fails to adhere to the established standard of care, such as in the case of a never event, they may be liable for any injury or death that results from their misconduct.

Surgical errors are just one of several ways in which a negligent medical profession can injure a patient. Other examples include failing to diagnose a serious condition ends up delaying treatment or surgery, birth injuries stemming from improper or negligent medical decisions or monitoring, and prescription medication errors that result in adverse reactions.

The experienced attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC have successfully recovered millions of dollars in compensation for individuals injured by the negligence of a medical professionals. If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence of a medical professional or institution, contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today.