Surgeries in South Carolina, while remaining safe in many cases, carry a significant risk, even for procedures that are commonplace. A patient might have a problem with the anesthesia, or a tiny nick from the surgeon's scalpel could endanger the patient's life. Every patient has a unique combination of factors that can negatively influence a surgery. Doctor errors, negligence and mistakes can also cause permanent disability or death.
South Carolina patients will be interested to know that a recent report revealed that many medical errors have gone unreported by doctors who are aware of another doctor's medical malpractice. Despite the code of ethics that mandates medical error disclosure, many patients have been released from hospitals without being informed about their impending health danger.
South Carolina medical patients should know that doctors who act unprofessionally may not be penalized. Between 2001 and 2011, almost 6,000 physicians were placed on restriction at medical facilities for incidents related to patient well-being. However, more than 3,000 of those individuals received no sanctions against their license and were not even fined, despite having their clinical privileges revoked. Of these individuals, 234 of them were deemed to be an immediate threat to patients.
Hospitalization is often necessary to treat serious illnesses, but patients in South Carolina and throughout the country need to take a few steps to insure the safest stay possible. There have been an estimated 1.5 million medication errors every year, according to a recent study by the National Patient Safety Foundation, and over 1,000 other serious mistakes that have caused unnecessary deaths or worsening of illness. Notable cases included a man who lost his leg when a post surgical drain was left in too long and newborns who have died of Heparin overdoses.Unless a patient is facing an emergency, he or she should take the time to investigate the hospital and other providers that will be in charge of their care. Many people do not do this, but it can be as simple as looking up the prospective hospital and physician online and verifying all their licensing. Many resources can be found at the Agency for Health Research and Quality. Institutional and physician safety records are more available now than they ever have been, and patients may want to take advantage of this information.
When a patient makes an appointment with his or her primary care physician, the tension level at that visit is usually lower than on visits to a specialist, a surgeon or a hospital facility. After all, primary care physicians are most often associated with preventative medicine and therefore these office visits often feel less threatening for patients.
There are many legitimate reasons that patients fear the operating room. The risk of contracting a post-operative infection, the risk of reacting to anesthesia and the risk of a challenging diagnosis can be daunting. However, risks that patients should not be subjected to are those of leave-in surgical errors. Tragically, more than one dozen patients are subjected to leave-in surgical errors on a daily basis nationwide. When sponges, towels and other surgical tools are left inside patient bodies, the outcome can be catastrophic.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the ways in which physicians' lack of sleep is impacting patient safety and the quality of patient care in America. We noted specifically that sleep deprivation is frequently a contributor to the kinds of medical errors which lead to medical malpractice suits. Failure to address the issue of physician sleep deprivation will only lead to these mistakes repeating over and over again.
In recent years, the federal government has invested an extraordinary amount of time and resources to address the issue of trucker fatigue. When commercial truck drivers fail to obtain adequate rest, their judgment, ability to react quickly and ability to perform their jobs safely becomes impaired. Many innocent bystanders die on American roads as a result of trucker fatigue. The same effort that has been put into addressing trucker fatigue must now be put into combating the critical patient safety hazard of physician fatigue.
A startling statistic has been peppering recent media coverage related to healthcare. Every week, medical errors kill enough American patients to fill four jumbo-sized jets. Yet when planes crash, these incidents make headlines. The vast majority of fatal medical errors resulting from hospital negligence and other preventable causes pass by unnoticed by all but the victims' loved ones.
South Carolina residents may be aware of the increasing volume of medical malpractice claims due to preventable medical mistakes. While medical errors can occur for a number of reasons, a fair number of mistakes occur blood samples are being taken.