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Caregiver Miscommunication Involved in Majority of Serious Surgical Errors

Patients who must undergo complex or essential surgeries depend on receiving attentive and thorough care from their healthcare providers. Unfortunately, patient injuries experienced during surgery often result from entirely preventable errors made by surgeons and other caregivers. In many instances, a medical malpractice lawsuit is an injured patient’s only recourse to redress the harm suffered.

Surgical errors commonly include foreign objects left inside patients, organ puncture and other surgical tool errors, errors in administering anesthesia, and performing an operation on either the wrong patient or the wrong body part. It is imperative that healthcare organizations adequately train their staff and follow a strict safety protocol to avoid these potentially devastating errors.

Furthermore, clear communication between caregivers is critical to preventing surgical errors. The Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare estimates that 80 percent of serious surgical errors involve miscommunication between caregivers. These communication breakdowns can occur at one or more points before, after, or during an operation.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that the most common communication breakdowns involved staff failing to notify the surgeon of critical data about the patient’s status and defective patient handoffs between attending physicians. Likewise, the Joint Commission recently found that handoffs were defective more than 37 percent of the time, threatening the safety of the patient’s care. These handoff defects involve senders with limited knowledge of the patient’s condition, inaccurate information provided to the receiver, and little to no contact between the sender and receiver.

Healthcare organizations often fail to implement or follow an effective protocol for communicating necessary patient information from one caregiver to another. Such breakdowns can cause surgical errors that result in serious injury and death. The patient can recover compensation for those injuries if the error was preventable. An experienced Illinois surgical error attorney can investigate and initiate a lawsuit if a caregiver failed to follow accepted medical standards and procedures.

The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti have experience getting to the bottom of surgical errors and rooting out the negligent breakdowns in communication that cause these avoidable injuries. If you were injured before, during, or after surgery because of surgical error, do not hesitate to contact an attorney to discuss your options.