Few things are as frightening as having to go under the knife. When patients enter the operating room, they trust that their surgeon and the medical team will perform their tasks proficiently and safely. That’s not always the case and every year, thousands of people are seriously injured at the hands of their surgeon.
Such was the case of Alfred Matthews who underwent gall bladder surgery at the hands of Dr. James R. O’Donnell just before Christmas 2015. Mr. Matthews expected Dr. O’Donnell to remove the gallbladder without causing him further injury. Unfortunately, during the surgery, Dr. O’Donnell severed the common bile duct. Rather than repair the cut, Dr. O’Donnell ignored it.
“Dr. O’Donnell had an obligation to Mr. Matthews to repair the mistake. This mistake could have been fatal as bile leaking into the body can quickly lead to infection. In this case, the error caused considerable pain and suffering to the patient,” criticized Chicago medical malpractice attorney John Power.
Surgical errors are a considerable problem. Whether they occur during laparoscopic or traditional surgery, they can cause death or permanent injury. In 2012, Johns Hopkins estimated that these “never events” occurred more than 4000 times that year. They further stated that this was a “low ball” estimate.
“Errors can occur at any time, for any one of a thousand reasons. When errors happen, the statistics are grim. Over a 20 year period from 1990 to 2010, 6.6% of patients died, 59% had temporary injuries, and a further 33% were left with permanent injuries. It’s enough to give pause to anyone who has an upcoming surgery on the calendar,” lamented Chicago medical malpractice attorney John Power.
Surgical errors are occurring at an alarming rate. As the need for safe and effective surgical services continues to rise, it’s imperative to hold surgeons and surgical teams accountable to the highest standards. Doing so is the only way to ensure patient safety today, tomorrow, and into the future.