Study shows serious medical errors occur more often than believed

Posted on Oct 26, 2010
A recent study appearing in the medical journal Archives of Surgery reports serious and catastrophic medical mistakes and medical errors are more common than we thought.  The medical malpractice found in the study focused on "never events" - mistakes, errors, malpractice that should never happen, like operating on the wrong patient, removing the wrong body part during surgery, mixing up patient biopsy results, etc.

Most of the medical mistakes had to do with miscommunication and many could have been prevented by simple safety precautions.  

One of the ways to keep patients safe in the operating room is for the surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses and techs - all of the health care providers - to take a "time out" while the patient is still awake and alert.  During the time out, everyone confirms the patient's name, the surgical procedure about to be performed and the surgical site.

The lead researcher in the study called the reported errors "the tip of the iceberg" and a Johns Hopkins physician said catastrophic surgical errors are "a lot more common than the public thinks."


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