Do you envision instruments left inside a patient, removing the wrong organs and operating on the wrong patient when you think of surgical errors? If so, you are not alone. Many Maryland residents hear about these instances when it comes to news stories about medical malpractice. However, other injuries can wreak just as much havoc on a person's body and cause permanent injuries as well.
Many courts around the country and here in Maryland must answer this question far more often than anyone would prefer. No parent should have to leave a hospital without his or her child. Doing so would be difficult enough when doctors did everything they could to save the child, but when it is possible that medical malpractice led to the infant's death, it could be devastating.
When assessing the readiness of residents to perform surgery, the longstanding process has been for supervising surgeons to assess individual performance in the operating room. While this technique has proven effective for decades, the emergence of more regulatory bodies in surgical education has highlighted a need for a decidedly less subjective performance evaluator.
If you've been to the doctor's office or the hospital recently, chances are good that your medical information was recorded into and/or read from a computer screen or tablet. Indeed, paper charts appear to be racing toward obsolescence.
Anyone who must undergo some manner of operation knows through their conversations with surgeons and their own research or personal experience that there is always some degree of risk involved. Indeed, postoperative complications can arise, infections can develop, and the underlying disease or condition can remain unchanged.
Two years ago, the National Academy of Medicine published a groundbreaking report indicating that not only will the majority of people receive an incorrect or delayed diagnosis at least once during their lifetime, but that roughly 12 million people -- or close to 5 percent of adults seeking outpatient care -- are misdiagnosed every year.
Even though hospitals have signs in strategic locations warning about the possibility of a patient taking a fall, this kind of accident happens on a daily basis. Patients may fall because they felt woozy getting out of bed or because the freshly mopped floor was slippery.
If you were to ask your longtime physician about their time as a resident, they would more than likely look back with some ambivalence, perhaps describing a 12-month period highlighted by significant learning, but also very long shifts and sleepless nights.
Keep track. Ask questions. And no sharing.
It is a huge relief to find out that there is a way to treat your condition or illness. Whether it is a short-term antibiotic or a long-term drug for a chronic illness, prescription medications have the power to cure you or make your life more bearable. You trust your health care providers to find the best treatment options out there, but what happens when they make a mistake with your medications? YOU pay the price. Maybe the ultimate price. It's up to you to be vigilant.
While the reality of having to undergo surgery is enough to make even the most stoic patient experience considerable unease, things can become that much more difficult when they are have to deal with a surgeon who is rude, dismissive or otherwise disrespectful. In fact, the experience might be so bad that it forces the patient or their family members to complain to hospital administration.