Illinois tops list for providing large payouts in med mal suits

An analysis regarding reports of medical malpractice in the United States suggests that fewer claims of surgical errors have been reported since the 1990s. However, the analysis also suggests that when a surgical error does occur, payouts for damages tend to be very high due to the extent of a patient’s injuries from a medical mistake. According to the analysis, payouts for injuries resulting from surgical errors also tend to be much higher in Illinois compared to other states.

The analysis was conducted by a doctor from the University of California at San Diego. The doctor, along with several of his colleagues, analyzed data from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) to determine if there have been any interesting trends regarding surgical errors between 1990 and 2006. In particular, the study examined whether or not certain types of errors resulted in higher payouts for malpractice claims and what types of mistakes tend to be most common.

According to the analysis, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware and Wisconsin have paid the highest amounts for damages resulting from surgical errors. Although none of these states have damage caps for claims regarding surgical errors, the amounts paid out in claims illustrates the serious and complex injuries patients are subjected to suffering when medical practitioners are negligent before, during or after surgical operations.

Information from the NPDB suggests that the majority of medical malpractice claims involving surgical errors were either a result of improper performance or another mistake that could not be classified under a specific category. Some mistakes included:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Performing an unnecessary surgery
  • Failing to recognize a complication before, during or after surgery
  • Failing to use proper techniques while performing surgery

We will continue this discussion later this week focusing on the types of injuries patients are prone to suffering when a mistake that could have been prevented does occur before, during or after surgery and the amount of damages a mistake can add up to.

Source: Medscape News, “Surgical Malpractice Claims Drop, But Pay-Outs Increase,” Carol Helwick, Nov. 14 2011

Surgical Errors


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