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Poor communication the cause of surgical errors

Arizona patients may have justifiable concerns about medical errors occurring during surgeries. Although mistakes like operating on the wrong side of the body remain rare, a recently-published study found that insufficient communication among health care workers contributed to avoidable errors called "never events" by the medical community.

Examples of poor communication included someone ignoring a concern expressed by another team member or failing to speak up. According to the study, these rare errors when the wrong site of the body was operated on happened in one out of 100,000 surgeries across the country. Included in wrong-site surgeries were errors that involved procedures being done on the wrong person. A mistake such as leaving a surgical sponge inside the body happened in one out of 10,000 surgeries. The researchers also tried to determine how often fires occurred during surgeries, but insufficient data prevented them from putting a figure on that type of incident.

The researchers performed the study on behalf of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Patient Safety. They analyzed data from 138 studies that had been published between 2004 and 2014 that attempted to collect information about never events. The study's authors concluded that more information should be collected so that medical professionals could develop better safety protocols.

For a person who has been injured by a surgical mistake, a medical malpractice lawsuit might be a viable course for holding health care professionals or institutions accountable. Speaking with an attorney might help determine if medical negligence led to the errors. The attorney can examine the patient's records and obtain the opinion of experts in order to support the finding that a health care practitioner failed to exhibit the appropriate standard of care.

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