Many people have likely run across stories about operations gone wrong, stories about sponges left inside incisions or patients that had the wrong leg operated on. A recent lawsuit filed by a woman from St. Ann, Missouri puts all those in perspective. The recently filed medical malpractice suit alleges that her physician operated on the wrong side of her brain.
The suit was filed against the St. Clare Health Center and her doctor, identified as Dr. Armon Levy. The woman, Regina Turner, was scheduled to undergo a "left-side craniotomy bypass" to help prevent future strokes, but instead received a "right-side craniotomy surgical procedure." Once the surgeons realized their mistake they performed the correct procedure six days later, tragically, too late to avoid damage.
Her family has now filed suit on her behalf, claiming that the hospital and her neurosurgeon were negligent and careless which led to the terrible mistake. Prior to the surgery the woman was able to walk, talk and care for herself. The woman is now unable to speak and requires around the clock care just to meet her basic needs.
An expert interviewed about the case said that while it is understandable that many people would want to blame the doctor, the fact is such catastrophic mistakes like wrong-site surgeries are actually signs of a systemic failure and not an individual's error. A lack of proper safety protocols in the hospital itself could be to blame or a dearth of pre-surgery checklists for doctors to ensure that similar mistakes never happen. According to the lawsuit, members of the operating team setup the operating room incorrectly and then stood by and watched as the doctor operated on the wrong side of the patient's brain, never interjecting or double-checking.
Following along with this theme of surgical errors, a recent study out of Harvard Medical School came across some disturbing evidence which showed that surgical mistakes can actually help boost a hospital's financial bottom line. Though it's terrible to imagine, the researchers found that complications that arise from surgeries, such as infections or strokes, result in significantly more money for the hospital than procedures that go smoothly.
Using records from a Texas hospital, the researchers discovered that procedures that ended in complications earned the hospital just under $15,000 while surgeries that went according to plan netted the hospital $7,500. That means that surgical complications are almost twice as lucrative as those procedures that go perfectly.
The study's authors have said that they conducted the research to try and understand why it appears to be so hard to reduce medical complications which claim tens of thousands of lives every year. The authors said they were always confused about why it seemed to take so long for hospitals to implement simple procedures, such as surgical checklists, when they can lead to dramatic improvements in surgical success. They determined that money may actually play a role, meaning hospitals and doctors have a financial disincentive to get every surgery right.
The study's authors acknowledged that fixing the problem will require a lot of hard work. They suggest that the insurance industry change its way of reimbursing doctors and hospitals, paying based on surgical success rather than based on the number of operations performed. Doing this would create a true financial incentive for healthcare provides to work their hardest to ensure complication-free procedures.
If you or a family member has been the victim of wrong site or side surgery don't walk away without making a claim, you are entitled to fair payment for your injury. Call Missouri & Illinois medical malpractice lawyer Ben Sansone for a free meeting to discuss your case. (314) 863-0500.
Source: "Lawsuit alleges doctor operated on wrong side of patient's brain," published at FoxNews.com.
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