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Congressman’s Death Raises Questions Over how to Prevent Medical Errors

Congressman Murtha’s recent death has raised questions about the complications of gallbladder surgery. Many are left wondering if the influential lawmaker was among nearly 100,000 people who die in U.S. hospitals annually because of medical errors. While Congressmen debate health care on the hill, it is time that they reflect on the death of one of their own. Instead of focusing on issues such as tort reform, it is necessary that they look more closely at how to prevent medical error.

The Washington Post found reported that Murtha had elective laparoscopic gallbladder surgery preformed at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and fell ill shortly afterwards from an infection that has been related to the procedure. Studies have found that the mortality rates for gallbladder surgery is quite low, ranging from .7-2% even in the elderly. So we are left with the question of whether Murtha was an unlucky patient or whether he is yet another victim of medical error. Some argue that a two minute checklist could decrease the death rate. Since Bethesda Naval Hospital is a government institution, organizations that work to prevent medical mistakes cannot confirm whether they do use such a checklist.

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti support the use of checklists to promote communication between hospital staffers. They believe that this is one step that a hospital can take in lower the death toll that occurs every year from medical error. If you believe that you are a victim of such a medical error, please consult a Chicago medical malpractice attorney. To read more about the devastating lost of Congressman Murtha, please click the link.