Surgical mistakes: 175 instances of malpractice in 30 months

A recent report regarding medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, focusing on surgical errors, was recently released by the Patient Safety Authority. 175 errors were made in the state during the past two and a half years, not including 253 close calls. These errors can lead to serious physical and financial strain, or even wrongful death. “Wrong-site” surgeries are a persistent problem and are clearly avoidable. Pennsylvania is a leader in public accountability for medical and surgical errors. In an effort to reduce the costs of health care, the Governor proposed that the state should cease to pay for care involving hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries, and other instances of medical malpractice. It is also the only state that requires hospitals to report near-misses.

The report cited wrong-site surgeries including the removal of a patient’s healthy thyroid and incorrect cancer diagnosis as the result of a laboratory mix-up, an incorrect incision on the wrong side of a brain injury patient’s head, and a surgeon inserting a needle into a patient’s right knee when the surgery was planned for the other leg. In 83 reported cases of wrong-site surgeries in the state, the procedure was completed before the mistake was detected.

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