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Few medical situations have the ability to invoke the kind of fear and anxiety felt by patients about to undergo surgery, and for very good reason. Their life is, quite literally, in the hands of the surgeon and his or her medical team. The patient is completely vulnerable—unconscious and unaware of their surroundings and circumstances. Potential risks and unexpected surgical complications can, and sometimes do, arise. But now there is a new surgical danger that patients fear… or they would if they were aware of its presence.

The “Secret” Risk of Surgery Today

There is a secret inside of operating rooms today; it is shared among nurses, surgeons, anesthetists, and even hospital administrators but often kept from the patients being operated on. Surgeons—in an attempt to balance out the high demand for their skills and the increased pressure to earn more capital—are double-booking surgeries. Their time and attention are split between two or more operating rooms at once, sometimes for the entire duration of one or more surgical procedures, and some of the responsibilities are handed off to student residents or other attending surgeons.

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medical error rate, malpractice attorney in ChicagoMedical malpractice affects thousands of Americans every year due to hospital negligence or patients suffering from some type of preventable harm due to medical error. NPR referenced a Journal of Patient Safety study that concluded between 210,000 and 440,000 patient deaths occurred as a result of  preventable harm in hospitals, making it the third leading cause of death in America.

This number is more than double the 98,000 patients previously reported by the Institute of Medicine. When it comes to hospital safety, patients may be in harm’s way more often than they realize. The American Association for Justice points out more startling statistics that further emphasize a problem the nation continues to face. Its report concludes:

  • An estimated 40 wrong-site surgeries occur on a weekly basis;
  • Up to 1,500 medical sponges or surgical instruments are left inside patients every year; and
  • The same five percent of doctors are responsible for over half of all medical negligence cases.

These statistics prove that the problem is not being properly addressed. The consistent rate of medical error is cause for concern. Patients victim to medical negligence compromise not only their immediate health, but their future quality of life and financial stability. When patients must have corrective procedures or surgeries as a result of medical error, these costs cause undue hardship and health care providers need to be held accountable.

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