When a patient undergoes surgery, he or she may be concerned about the recovery process or the prospects of going under anesthesia, but patients shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not the surgical instruments that are being used are sterile. Unfortunately, dirty and unsterile surgical instruments are sometimes used, resulting in serious infection and potentially fatal outcomes. In fact, in 2012, NBC News reported that “investigations in hospitals across the country have revealed the use of other dirty surgical instruments, such as endoscopes used for colonoscopies, have led to infection outbreaks.” Doctors and hospitals have an obligation to provide adequate and appropriate treatment and avoid preventable medical error. When unsterile surgical instruments or other surgical error causes the patient to suffer injury or death, medical malpractice is likely involved. Medical malpractice happens any time a doctor or health care provider fails to provide the appropriate standard of care and the patient is injured as a result. If a doctor or hospital is found liable for medical malpractice, the patient may be able to recover compensatory damages for medical bills, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. As we reported, recent data shows that about 80 “never events” – such as surgical instruments left inside the patient and the wrong surgery performed – occur every week. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that surgical “never events” happen at least 4,000 times a year in the United States and more than 80,000 “never events” occurred between 1990 and 2010. The Johns Hopkins research also showed that:
- Approximately 39 times a week a foreign object, such as a towel or sponge, is left inside of a patient.
- Approximately 20 times a week, surgeons perform the wrong surgery or operate on the wrong body part.
- More than 9,744 medical malpractice claims were paid during the twenty year period, which cost more than $1.3 billion
Common types of surgical “never events” include:
- Instruments such as sponges are unintentionally left behind in the patient
- Wrong procedure performed
- Wrong surgical site
- Surgery performed on the wrong patient
- Unsterile surgical instruments
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you were injured or a loved one died as a result of unsterile surgical instruments or other surgical error, you may be able to recover compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish have significant experience representing the victims of medical malpractice, and are committed to helping patients and their families receive full and fair compensation. Contact the Chicago injury lawyers at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible wrongful death medical malpractice claim.