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Recent Wall Street Journal Article Highlights Deadly Trends in Medical Mistakes

A recent Wall Street Journal Article featuring an interview with a noted Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon has highlighted the somewhat shocking frequency with which medical mistakes are made in health care facilities across America, many of which go unnoticed. In fact, as the author points out, if medical errors were a disease unto itself, they would be the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. Some of the figures and numbers are noteworthy, and here are a few, according to the article's author:

  • Surgeons across the U.S.operate on the wrong body part 40 times per week;
  • 25% of all hospitalized patients are harmed by a medical error;
  • 20-30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary

These errors are costly, not only to human life and limb, but also to the health care system, totaling tens of billions of dollars a year.

According to the author's interview with the Johns Hopkins surgeon, one of the systemic problems giving rise to these errors is an unspoken culture in hospitals to overlook the mistakes of their colleagues. As a result, physicians and hospitals are able to escape accountability and complication rates continue to escalate. In response to this prevailing culture, many physicians are now advocating more transparency of the commission of medical errors to help educate the public and provide them critical information to assist them in choosing a physician and hospital to provide them care. These health care providers advocate the publishing "online" of such information including rates for infection; readmission due to complications, surgical complications, "never event" errors (things like leaving a sponge inside a patient following surgery), patient satisfaction scores and the hospital's annual volume for a particular procedure.

These same physicians are also advocating the use of cameras in all operating rooms. According to them, the presence of these cameras will help ensure that physicians are adhering to evidence based guidelines in their surgeries. At least one recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that upwards of 50% of surgeons do not adhere to tried and true evidence based guidelines in their surgeries.

At STSW, our lawyers routinely handle a wide range of medical error / medical mistake cases in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. metropolitan areas against hospitals such as Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, Washington Hospital Center, Harbor Hospital, St. Agnes Hospital, Union Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Sinai Hospital, Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. Whether it be a routine "never event" error such as leaving a surgical instrument in a patient's body after surgery or operating on the wrong body part, or a more complicated failure to follow the applicable standards/guidelines for care, our lawyers are skilled at breaching the culture of silence that often permeates hospitals and the healthcare profession to ascertain the truth. If you or a loved one have been the victim of such a medical error or mistake in this regard, contact us for a free consultation at (410) 385-2225 or visit our website to set up your free consultation.

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