The clinical negligence research in the US and the social resonance

A group of scientists from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, conducted a study to ascertain the real extent of medical negligence problem and see how often mistakes are made by medical workers. Experts say that more than 80,000 of such incidents occurred between 1990 and 2010. The researchers’ findings are based on data provided by the National Bank of the medical information that registers all the errors committed by doctors.

As it turned out, the error of doctors committed for various reasons, including because of negligence, are not really rare. Just imagine, an average of 39 cases  when in the course of operations doctor misses various facts are registered per week. But the severity of these violations is different, and significant damage is there: a doctor may leave an item inside the body, another patient may harm  the wrong part of the body. The cases in which the patients undergo operations on the wrong organs take place up to 20 times a week. The most common items that are removed from the bodies of patients are sponges and towels.

The fact that only in the United States alone there were more than 80,000 of such  accidents in the last twenty years shows that the scope of the issue, in fact, even more. If a person comes into the hospital complaining of feeling unwell, fixing a medical error is possible by removing foreign objects. But just think how many people live with some tools in the body and don’t even know about it. Of course, there is more likelihood that the surgeon may find out that an item was left inside earlier, then the issue is likely to be fixed sooner. Nevertheless, while in the US according to NPB publication 5% of patients suffer from clinical negligence, in the UK this number balances between 4-5% according to, a prominent legal startup running a database of medical negligence solicitors, in such countries as Russia or Peru these numbers are not even officially tracked.

‘There are errors in health care that can not be avoided, no matter how hard you try. For example, even if you make every effort to prevent the spread of infection, it could be impossible. However, certain situations, such as the ones when the surgeon forgets a tool inside the body, should be reduced if not to zero, then at least to a minimum. Frankly speaking, this study and the figures that we have presented, is a direct proof of the fact that a lot of work has to be made to make medicine safer’, says the study’s lead author, Marty Makary MD.

Researchers believe that the magnitude of the problem under investigation should encourage physicians and regulatory authorities to develop a more effective system of control. For more than 20 years there has been 9744 cases of medical negligence, which resulted in $1.3 billion cost – the total amount of compensation to claimants.

According to experts, 6.6% of patients due didn’t survive after the errors, for 32.9% the case ended with a chronic disease; the amount of those who escaped with slight shock is 59.2%.

In addition, there are other surgical errors. For example, often the patients ‘treated’ wrong drugs, or given the wrong dose, women who enlisted the help of artificial insemination are inseminated with sperm of the wrong donor, people operate in the wrong place, where it is necessary, and it happens sometimes that a wrong person is lying on the operation table.