“Hospitals may make more money causing surgical errors than preventing them,” CBS News reported on April 17, 2013. Surprised? Consider this: In a study of more than 34,000 patients, 1,820 endured more than one complication, and, “[o]n average, patients who had one or more complications provided the hospital with $49,400 in revenue. Those who did not only brought in $18,900,” the article stated.
What makes surgical errors such as removing the wrong limb or organ particularly devastating is that they can be prevented by:
- marking the operative site with the patient’s initials;
- making sure the patient’s medical records are available in the operating room and double-checking that chart with the patient before surgery;
- addressing any discrepancies immediately; and
- ensuring that various members of the team (nurse, anesthesiologist, surgeon) communicate with one another and feel comfortable asking questions or addressing concerns during the operation.
With regard to the latter, “[T]here has been a lot of emphasis in the medical community on disclosing one’s own mistakes, one doctor recently told komonews.com, “but few have addressed how doctors should address a colleague’s mistakes … At the moment, when something goes wrong with a colleague most physicians think the collegial thing is to cover for the colleague. That’s been the status quo for a long time.”
Unfortunately, speaking up doesn’t always save the patient from suffering egregious injuries. For example, Dr. Rolando R. Sanchez amputated the wrong leg of a 52-year-old man in 1995.
During his medical malpractice lawsuit, “Dr. Sanchez testified that he learned of his error from a nurse as he was still cutting through the leg of the patient,” nytimes.com reported. “After reviewing the patient’s file, she had started to shake and cry. But by that point, he said, there was no turning back.”
In addition to blaming hospital staff for the mistake, Sanchez and his lawyer argued that both legs were in such bad shape that it never occurred to him that he may be removing the wrong limb.
An expert witness vouched for him.
“It is my opinion that 50 — no, probably 90 percent — of the surgeons in this state would have made the same mistake that Dr. Sanchez made,” he stated.
Can I File a Claim for a Surgical Error?
In the last thirty years, surgical error attorney Chris Mellino has represented countless clients who suffered severe and debilitating injuries as a result of a careless mistake. If your doctor removed the wrong leg, arm, or organ, contact our Cleveland office today for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.