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Busy teaching hospitals are ripe for post-surgery medical errors

It's no surprise that young, overworked doctors will make some mistakes in their practice. A portion of these medical errors may not affect the health of their patients, but still have the potential to create serious issues. Recently, a study conducted at an urban teaching hospital revealed just how frequently mistakes are made in these institutions.

The study was conducted at a British hospital, but a patient safety advocate indicated that many of the issues discovered in this institution are likely to affect patients in North Carolina and the rest of the country as well. Shockingly, the study found that patients may experience four to five procedural mistakes during post-surgery care. Just over half of these surgical errors inflicted real harm on patients, and 85 percent of them were preventable.

Most of the research into medical malpractice has focused only on the harmful mistakes. This study went beyond that in order to determine just how often any mistakes -- injurious or not -- occur in post-surgery care. The results of their study were very indicative of the kind of risks any surgical patient faces, even after the actual procedure is completed.

The study also went further by examining why these errors occur so often. At the heart of it, they found that there was an overall lack of communication. This has led to errors in reviewing diagnostic tests and medication delivery. Many of these accidents can prevented if medical providers simply follow basic procedures and there is communication relaying that protocol has been followed.

While patients wait for hospitals to improve their practices, it's helpful to know that there are ways to seek justice for preventable medical mistakes. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals have an obligation to their patients to follow proper medical protocol and should be held accountable to meet that end.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Study finds errors in post-surgery care are common," Kerry Grens, Oct. 2, 2012

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