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New physicians, residents a safe bet during surgery, study says

Although hospital patients in Chicago might feel nervous about being treated by medical residents or newer physicians, the risk for medical malpractice may not be any higher than when only being treated by a professional with more experience, a recent study suggests.

According to the study, which was comprised of data from more than 60,000 U.S. surgeries over the course of two years, less than six percent of patients sustained what doctors would call a major complication from surgery. This includes a severe infection or bleeding. Surgeries in which residents were not involved showed no increase or decrease in major complications from surgical errors, which suggests patients are safe with their participation during operations.

Minor complications increased at an insignificant rate when residents did become involved, though, according to the study’s findings. A lead researcher said the differences were not cause of concern because the minor complications were mainly skin infections at the surgery site and only about 3 percent of patients had been affected. About 2 percent of patients were affected by minor infections when residents were not involved.

Residents recently have received negative reputations due to a few studies that have caused concerns claiming young medical school graduates increase risks to patients. Naturally, studies have shown the level of surgeon experience controls the outcome of patients during and after operations, and hospitals in busier areas have better rates of patient outcomes as well.

Medical professionals of all ages and levels of experience are capable of making mistakes when they deviate from the standard of care. When doctors, nurses and surgeons do make mistakes that should not happen, patients have a right to seek compensation for their injuries and any other damages.

Source: Reuters, “Having a trainee surgeon in operations is safe: study,” Amy Norton, Aug. 15, 2012


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