Georgia residents who are about to undergo surgery should know that according to a report from the medical liability insurer Coverys, surgical errors are the second most common error in malpractice claims. The insurer analyzed claims that were closed between 2014 and 2018 and found that 2,579, or a full 25%, were surgery-related. As a side note, the most common errors were diagnostic errors at 32%.

Of these surgery-related claims, 78% had to do specifically with practitioner performance during the surgery. The rest involved negligent actions like leaving a foreign body inside a patient, 7%, performing unnecessary surgery, 4%, and delaying surgery, 3%.

Many of the errors were significant. In 29% of the claims, victims suffered permanent injuries, and in 9%, the patient died. Among the reasons behind the errors, the most prominent were lack of technical skill and failures in clinical judgment and communication. Twenty-two percent of claims fell under the field of general surgery followed by 17% in orthopedic surgery and 8% in neurosurgery.

Physicians should use shared decision-making techniques to ensure that a patient fully participates in and understands what is happening at the pre-surgical stage. Informed consent discussions should be thoroughly documented. The operating room should be free of distractions: limited conversation, no visitors, no music and no phones going off.

Under medical malpractice law, those who are injured by a surgeon’s negligent actions may seek compensation. The statute of limitations is two years from the time of injury or death, but in cases where the harm caused by the error does not appear right away, a statute of repose gives victims or their families five years in which to file a claim. Whatever the situation is like, those who intend to file may want a lawyer to assist with each step.