Do Technical Errors Lead To Surgical Negligence Claims?

by hellen on August 26, 2013

In most settings, human error is to blame for accidents. The overwhelming majority of car accidents are caused by distraction rather than mechanical faults, and accidents at work are caused by negligence rather than malfunctions.

Recent research has shown that operating room errors cause a lot of clinical negligence claims. In fact, the BMJ Quality & Safety study revealed that 15.5% of medical negligence claims involved technology or equipment issues, while almost one-quarter (23.5%) of operating room errors were due to equipment and technology issues.

Around 20% of all major operating room mistakes were due to equipment errors, while 8% were for communication problems and 13% related to technical failures.  Generally, the surgical procedures that required the most equipment and technology saw the highest rate of errors, showing that technology is a factor in a lot of medical negligence claims.

Medical negligence claims in surgery – are humans to blame for equipment errors?

Unsurprisingly, while technology and equipment errors were found in a huge number of medical negligence claims, human error was still behind most of these. In nearly one-third of cases, the machinery failed to function properly, but in 43.4% the technology had been configured incorrectly or put on the wrong settings, while in 37% the availability of the gadget was a problem.

Simply doing spot-checks to ensure that equipment is set properly could therefore prevent a huge number of serious injuries and fatalities seen in operating theatres. Generic safety checks on equipment should be established as a routine part of surgery, promoting positive patient outcomes and preventing medical negligence.

Using a technology and equipment checklist before surgery could reduce the error rate by as much as 50%, the researchers said, arguing this should become part of the World Health Organization’s Surgical Safety Checklist.

Previous research has found that around 16% of all people who are admitted to hospital will be the victim of medical errors, with around half of these relating to surgery or operations.

Shocking levels of avoidable surgical errors

That almost half of all surgical errors could be prevented through a simple spot-check will come as a shock to anyone who has been a claimant in clinical negligence compensation claims, or anyone who has lost a loved one under the knife.

The recommendations made by the researchers should be adhered to by surgeons and everyone else in operating theatres. Improving patient outcomes might seem like a difficult challenge, but the research indicates that as much as 7.25% of clinical negligence claims could be prevented through simple spot-checks and equipment tests.

When surgical errors occur, the consequences can be catastrophic – surgery is inherently dangerous, so reducing this danger should be a key priority within healthcare settings. Even the most experienced and skilled surgeon can give someone a fatal personal injury due to equipment problems, and dealing with this concern could significantly reduce the likelihood of this happening.

 The worst thing about equipment failure is how often it is avoidable. While a huge range of factors may lead to human error, resolving equipment problems is relatively straightforward.

Nick Rose

Nick Rose comes from a family of doctors and understands the importance of evidence when discussing remedies and surgical negligence. He works with solicitors in Burnley to handle Medical negligence compensation claims. He visits his GP every month to hear about the latest moves in medical treatments and surgical innovations, and spends the rest of his time working out and eating healthily.

Hellen works with civil litigation solicitors burnley can help you receive professional legal services. We have years of experience in the fields of whiplash injury compensation, crime, immigration and Personal Injury.

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