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Serious surgical errors occur 40 times each week nationally

There is not typically an inherent mistrust among Maryland patients with their doctors and other health care providers. Particularly in instances when an individual is going to be unconscious for a procedure, that sense of trust is critical. Unfortunately, it is when patients are under anesthesia for a variety of reasons that medical mistakes typically occur. Surgical errors are one of the most common claims of medical malpractice around the country, including here in Maryland.

There are certain mistakes that are called "never events" in the medical community because they are mistakes that are deemed to be so preventable and so egregious, they should never occur. Examples of this would be operating on the wrong side, operating on the wrong patient or performing the wrong procedure.

A medical student needed to have surgery to have an ovary removed because it had a dangerous mass on it. The surgeon removed the healthy ovary in a terrible mistake. It seems unthinkable that this would happen, and even to a victim that is familiar with the medical field. The victim filed a medical malpractice claim, her attorney said, "If it can happen to a medical student, it can happen to anyone."

That statement is uncomfortably true. It can happen to anyone. This is not an isolated event. How often do these "never events" occur? By some estimates, there are 40 happenings of these terrible and preventable errors every week around the country. While the medical community is looking for ways to address these problems and continue to drive down these statistics, the fact stands that there are patients every week victimized in such a manner.

While there is often little that can be done to reverse the suffering brought about by a medical mistake, financial recovery could be in order in some circumstances. An award from a successful medical malpractice suit is often the best method through which our legal system can try to make right for what a medical professional made terribly wrong.

Source: Care 2, "Doctors Perform 40 Mistake Surgeries Each Week," Piper Hoffman, Feb. 8, 2013

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