Newly released studies may have worrying ramifications for Arizona medical centers. According to an ABC News report, research has shown that surgeons are indeed negatively affected by operating room distractions, heightening the possibility of surgical error and other serious complications. Environmental background noises, such as music, have been a contentious issue for many years. While some surgeons insist music amplifies their concentration and dexterity, others consider it a barrier to effective surgical procedure. The University of Kentucky Medical Center's research seeks to offer some insight on the debate.
In a case with implications from Arizona to New York, an Indiana heart surgeon screamed at an worker who handled a heart/lung machine during surgery, and the Supreme Court awarded the employee a $325,000 settlement. Experts report that employee relations among hospital staff and disruptive behavior between medical personnel can cause workplace problems that lead to surgical errors. One executive explained that the emotional impact can distract medical personnel and endanger a patient's life. The Joint Commission has released standards for professionalism in the medical field in order to reduce and eliminate threats, intimidation and verbal outbursts that could affect employees or patients. Organizations are now realizing that patient safety is on the line.
Arizona residents may be aware that robot surgery performed with a system commonly known as the da Vinci is on the rise. In fact, 400,000 surgical cases used the da Vinci last year, tripling the number of cases just four years ago. However, there have been several deaths linked to the robot system, and some doctors feel that it's time to limit its use and curb the possible surgical errors. This may be of interest to Arizona readers because the da Vinci system is used nationwide. The da Vinci is commonly used for removing gall bladders, prostates, hysterectomies, shrinking stomachs and repairing heart valves. It is less tiring for surgeons because they remain sitting at a computer screen, and robot hands don't shake. Sometimes, there is less bleeding and often patients go home sooner than they do following conventional laparoscopic procedures.
According to a study that was published in Health Affairs in 2011, adverse medical errors were a factor in almost 33 percent of patient admissions. Another report from 2012 discovered that of such adverse events, about 44 percent could have been prevented. Surgical error takes many forms. Arizona residents might remember one well-publicized case where a single hospital committed two errors in a row after leaving an object inside a surgery patient, which necessitated a subsequent removal surgery. According to some estimates, medical errors cost around $1 trillion each year in lawsuits, fines, loss of productivity and other indirect costs. Many of these issues could have been prevented by organizational changes and improved communication between providers.
Arizona residents may have heard of robosurgery, a new form of surgery that involves a surgeon using a console much like the ones used to play video games to perform intricate procedures. The doctor works several feet away from the patient and uses a high definition display, hand controls and foot pedals to maneuver mechanical arms with surgical tools. It is thought to be safer and to reduce fatigue for doctors. However, a number of lawsuits involving a surgical error have been filed recently over debilitating injuries and deaths that have been attributed to robosurgery. According to data sent to regulators since 2009, approximately 70 deaths have been linked to robot surgical systems manufactured by California-based Intuitive, and it is the only company with a system approved for soft tissue procedures that include gynecological, prostate and general surgeries. Some 367,000 surgeries were performed in 2012 with the systems, which cost $5.1 million each. An analyst noted that hospitals aggressively market their use without mentioning the cases gone awry, and patients request them because they perceive robotic surgery as being a better option.
Surgical errors may qualify as medical malpractice when the surgeon fails to maintain an acceptable standard of care. A surgical error can cause excessive bleeding and place the patient's life at risk. Readers in Tucson will be interested in the following story on medical malpractice with national ramifications.
When people enter a hospital for treatment, they expect the staff to help them to get better and send them home. Unfortunately, the level of care that people expect isn't always what they receive. Tucson residents may be shocked to learn that when they enter the hospital for an operation, they are more likely to be subject to a surgical error than they might like to think.
Medical professionals have a responsibility to act with skill and precision in the operating room. Medical malpractice claims often arise as a result of so-called "never events," which are those events that should ideally never occur during the course of a surgical procedure. Still, every year surgical errors cause severe injuries to patients.
It's the kind of thing movies and television shows are made of. A patient has what was supposed to be a successful surgery only to suffer serious injuries because a scalpel was accidentally left behind in the surgical site. While for some people the possibility seems too fantastical to be true, medical instruments left inside a patient by his or her doctor is an all-too-common problem.
It sounds horrifying, but it happens all-too-often: a surgeon leaves medical instruments inside a patient. As you can imagine, this can cause an infection. The infection can then cause swelling, fever and pain, as well as septic shock and even death. Patients who have been victimized by this type of surgical error are entitled to compensation for medical care, pain, suffering, lost work and other costs related to the surgical mistake.