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Surgery is the second highest cause of malpractice suits

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Surgical procedures are intended to cure but may come with risks. Surgery, in fact, was cited as the second highest cause for medical malpractice legal claims according to a recent report prepared by the medical liability insurer, Coveys.

Analysis of closed malpractice claims from 2014 through 2018 reviewed by Coveys revealed that surgery claims were the second highest number of claims constituted 25% of malpractice cases. Diagnosis-related claims were first and were related to 32% of claims.

Seventy-eight percent of the 2,579 surgery claims involved physician performance during the surgery. But claims can come from the care and medical decisions before and after surgery. According to the report’s authors, malpractice can occur at each phase of the surgical process.

Most claims, 39%, involved charges that the surgeon had insufficient technical skill. Almost 27% of claims concerned failures in clinical judgment or communication.

Another 7% of malpractice claims involved leaving a foreign body in the patient, 4% were related to performing an unnecessary procedure, 3% involved surgery performed on the wrong site or patient and 3% were charges that the surgery was delayed.

General surgery caused 22% of claims followed by 17% involving orthopedic surgery and 8% for neurosurgery. Surgical injuries for 29% of claims were classified as “permanent significant” or worse, and 9% involved patient death.

At Cook & Tolley, LLP, we are experienced in examining the entire course of surgical care. This includes pre-operative testing, the doctor’s recommendation to have surgery, how the surgery was explained to the patient, how the surgery was performed, and whether good care was given after the surgery was complete.

If you are concerned that you or your loved one was injured by surgical malpractice, please reach out to us.


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Cook & Tolley, LLP
304 E Washington St
Athens, GA 30601
(706) 549-6111

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