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One in four operating room errors related to equipment

Wisconsin residents scheduled to undergo surgery may be troubled by the findings in a report published by the British Medical Journal, or BMJ. Researchers found that one in four operating room errors were caused by issues with technology or problems with equipment. The report went on to note that these errors, and the subsequent claims of medical malpractice, could be cut in half if hospitals used equipment checklists before beginning an operation.

The research team analyzed the findings of 28 previous studies of medical errors. They found that an average of 2.4 mistakes occurred during each surgical procedure, and that 23.5 percent of these errors were related to the equipment being used. The settings or configuration of devices caused problems 43 percent of the time, the availability of equipment was an issue in 37 percent of cases and machinery malfunctioned about a third of the time.

Three of the studies that were examined dealt with the benefits of using a checklist to make sure that equipment was present and in working order before surgery began. The results of these studies indicate that errors could be cut significantly if such a protocol was followed. The study went on to recommend that such a checklist become part of the Surgical Safety Checklist issued by the World Health Organization.

Medical science has made tremendous strides in the last few decades, but surgery is becoming more complex and dependent on technology. While undergoing an operation will always entail a certain degree of risk, it is troubling that so many errors occur as the result of avoidable problems with medical equipment. Patients who suffer injuries during surgery due to medical mistakes could be entitled to compensation. An attorney familiar with medical malpractice law may have the experience necessary to hold hospitals and surgeons accountable when their negligence or errors cause harm.

Source: Medical Daily, "Suing For Malpractice?: 70% Of Medical Errors Can Be Blamed On Technology And Equipment Failures", Anoopa Singh, July 25, 2013

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