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, medical negligence is not a rare occurrence. Just imagine, an average of 39 cases per week are registered when in the course of operations doctor misses various facts. 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 left inside a patient’s body after surgery are sponges and towels.
In the United States alone there were more than 80,000 of such accidents in the last twenty years. It shows that the scope of the issue is even bigger. If a person comes back into the hospital complaining that they feel unwell right after an operation, fixing a medical error is possible by removing foreign objects. But just think how many people live with some tools in their body and don’t even know about it.
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 solicitors.guru, 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 number of those who escaped with slight shock is 59.2%.
In addition, there are other surgical errors. For example, often the patients are ‘treated’ with wrong drugs, or given the wrong dose. Sometimes women who enlisted the help of artificial insemination are inseminated with the sperm of a wrong donor. The list of errors goes on.