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Preventing surgical errors in Oregon

When people go to the hospital for an operation, they trust the surgeons and staff will treat the matter with the utmost professionalism and that everything will go according to plan. However, this does not always happen. Unfortunately, 32 patients lost their lives last year as the result of preventable surgical errors. Although this number is actually a decrease from the number of patients who died as a result of medical errors in years past, the Oregon Patient Safety Commission is working hard to reduce that number even more.

The commission was established by the state legislature in 2003. Based on OSPC guidelines, 56 hospitals across the state are voluntarily taking part in a program to reduce the occurrence of serious medical errors. Of the 136 incidents reported in 2009, half resulted in death or serious injury to the patient. In addition, surgeons operated on a wrong body part or on the wrong patient nine times, and surgeons left foreign objects in patients a total of 21 times.

In order to help reduce this number, hospitals have implemented safety targets the commission has set. These include things such as promoting a culture of workplace safety, creating and maintaining proper electronic medical records and adopting safety practices based on evidence. The report also noted that 61% of hospitals in the state have developed more sophisticated medical record systems that can help with error checking and decision-making. On a positive note, 87% of participants met established targets for administering antibiotics to recovering patients on time, up from 75% in 2008, and the overall number of surgical errors has declined from levels seen in 2007.

While it is encouraging hospitals in Oregon are taking steps to reduce the number of surgical errors, mistakes still happen. Should anyone suffer as the result of a surgeon's negligence, he or she reserves the right to pursue a medical malpractice claim in an attempt to recover compensation. Working alongside a personal injury attorney with experience in medical malpractice claims can help a victim and his or her family hold the medical provider accountable and increase the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

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