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Medical errors following surgery is cause for concern

For Queens patients and their family members, surgery is scary enough. Surgical procedures carry any number of risks. But perhaps patients should also consider the incidence of doctor error after the surgery is finished. A recent study, although completed outside the United States, indicates that patients can expect four to five procedural mistakes during the course of recovering from surgery.

The study took place in the UK at a teaching hospital in London, but a doctor from Denver Health Medical Center believes that the results are indicative of the care at teaching hospitals in the U.S. as well.

The study monitored patients in the gastro-intestinal surgery unit during two years and were shocked at the number of failures in care. Even scarier is that over half of the medical errors created serious issues. The study highlights the breakdown of protocols in keeping patients healthy and safe.

The patients studied underwent a non-emergency surgery and the average length of stay was eleven days at the hospital. During the hospital stay, researchers checked in daily to gauge the standard of medical care. Of the 352 mistakes discovered, the majority of mistakes were referred to as process failures like failure to give drugs on time, deliver test results or instruct patients.

While luckily none of the patients died or incurred a longtime disability as a result of a mistake, a number of patients were seriously injured. Once surgery is complete, doctors and hospital staff are still held to a certain standard of care when dealing with recovering patients. If someone is injured due to doctor negligence during postoperative care, he or she can recover compensation for those damages by bringing a lawsuit against the negligent party.

Source: Reuters, "Study finds errors in postoperative care are common," Kerry Grens, Oct. 3, 2012

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