Human Error Causes Majority of Surgical Errors

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Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers discuss how human error causes a majority of surgical errors.Surgeons complete up to 16 years of education and medical training before they operate on their first patient. This includes a surgical residency at a hospital, which can take anywhere from three to eight years. Despite this extensive training, surgeons are capable of making mistakes, potentially resulting in medical malpractice claims. In fact, according to a recent article published in JAMA Network Open, human error was responsible for more than half of all adverse events that occurred during surgeries.

To gain a better understanding of the behavioral drivers of adverse surgical events, researchers in the study developed tools for classifying human error. According to a doctor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, these tools were applied on a weekly basis at a level 1 municipal trauma center, a quaternary care university hospital, and a US Veterans Administration hospital. Based on the results of the research, they can develop new approaches to cognitive training for surgeons. By improving the safety of surgical care, they can prevent surgical errors and improve patient outcomes.

The tool classified human performance deficiencies (HPDs) into five cognitive, technical, or team dynamic function-related categories, including the following:

  • Execution
  • Planning or problem solving
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Rules violation

Faculty, residents, and surgical trainees met on a weekly basis to discuss the adverse events that occurred during the previous week in all surgical categories, including general surgery, acute care surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, and abdominal transplant services.

Study Results

Researchers found that 182 out of 5,365 patients experienced an adverse event during surgery. Of these patients, human error was responsible for 56.4 percent of these adverse events. When categorizing the errors, researchers found the following:

  • Fifty-one percent were execution errors
  • Close to 30 percent were planning or problem-solving errors
  • Almost 13 percent were related to communication
  • Close to five percent were related to teamwork
  • Roughly three percent were rule violations

The common cognitive errors were generally caused by lack of attention, lapses in memory, or a failure to recognize a problem. Cognitive bias in care planning or problem solving was responsible for close to 20 percent of cognitive errors. According to one of the study authors, the results of the data suggested that over 400,000 potentially preventable adverse events occur in close to 17 million surgical procedures performed in the United States each year. Quality-improvements are necessary to reduce errors that lead to adverse events. These improvements must go beyond the existing system-based strategies due to the large proportion of cognitive errors.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Surgical Errors

 If you were injured due to a surgical error, you are urged to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our skilled legal team will investigate the details of your case and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, we represent victims of medical malpractice throughout Maryland, including residents of Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as clients in Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.