Most Surgical Malpractice Risks Arise Outside of the Operating Room

While surgical errors are often cited in malpractice suits, more of the claims arise from activities that did not occur during surgery. The surgeries themselves only account for about a quarter of the claims.

A third of all malpractice litigation deals with the diagnosis, and a fifth relate to dissatisfaction with treatment. However, no matter how they arise, any malpractice claim is one too many. The optimal approach is to vigilantly prepare for the specific patient’s surgery before it is performed, with direct communication with each person involved, and proper documentation each step of the way.

Common surgical errors:

  • Injuring a nerve during surgery
  • Administering too much or too little medication (anesthesia error)
  • Performing an incision at the wrong location
  • Leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside a patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part or on the wrong patient

Beef Up Protocols & Communications

Reducing the hazards that can lead to unfortunate outcomes needs to be a high priority for surgeons. But to work effectively, those priorities should be evident in the policies, training, and routine practices of everyone in the organization. Establishing unambiguous communication and protocols within your medical practice is your first line of defense.

The best practices need to be clearly stated and followed religiously. By everybody on the team. Then all crucial elements must be documented for those times when added scrutiny is called for. Properly documenting patient medical records is a common part of proper risk management.

About Dumont Insurance Corp.

Dumont Insurance Brokers Corp. – renowned for the cumulative industry knowledge, experience and insight of its staff, its close attention to customer care, and its innovative, automation-tinged model – was developed with a unique system underwritten by the most trusted and highest-rated carriers. This unique equation allows Dumont to provide customers with the very best, and most cost-effective, professional liability and E&O coverage, in spite of the ever-increasing hazards of a litigious society.


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