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Coverys: surgery a widespread reason for malpractice claims

Pennsylvania residents who are about to undergo surgery are probably wondering what the risk for an error can be. They should know that the second most common reason for malpractice claims, according to Coverys, is surgery. After analyzing all the malpractice claims that it closed between 2014 and 2018, the medical liability insurer discovered that 2,579 claims, or 25% of the total, were surgery related.

Only diagnosis-related errors were more common, accounting for 32% of claims. In the surgery-related claims, 78% had to do with the practitioner’s performance during the surgery. A lack of technical skill on the surgeon’s part was alleged in 39% of claims. Plaintiffs in 27% of claims argued that there was a failure in clinical judgment or communication.

All phases of surgery could become the focus in a malpractice claim, which is why the authors of the report encourage physicians to ensure greater patient participation when it comes to making important decisions.

The most affected fields were general surgery with 22% of claims, orthopedic surgery with 17% and neurosurgery with 8%. Specific errors included leaving a foreign object in a patient’s body, 7%, performing an unnecessary surgery, 4%, and performing on the wrong side, site or patient, 3%. In 29% of all surgery-related claims, patients incurred significant and permanent injury. Nine percent involved death.

Under medical malpractice law, those who are injured by a medical error may be eligible for compensation. It all depends on whether the medical professional involved failed to live up to a generally accepted standard of care. This negligence must then be connected to the injury. Victims are required to meet other requirements, so they may want a lawyer to assist them. Malpractice attorneys might have a network of third parties to investigate the matter.