Pennsylvania residents know that malpractice claims can arise from negligence on the part of doctors and other medical professionals, but they may not know what sort of errors are behind most claims. A report from the medical liability insurer Coverys answers this. It turns out that diagnosis-related errors come first, followed by surgical errors.

Coverys analyzed the claims closed between 2014 and 2018 and determined that 2,579, or 25% of all claims, were surgery-related. Of these, 78% had to do directly with the actions of practitioners during the surgery. In 39% of claims, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant lacked certain technical skills. In 27% of claims, there was a failure in clinical judgment and/or communication.

Some patients had a foreign object left in their body (7% of claims), had an unnecessary procedure done on them (4%) or were harmed by a delay in surgery (3%). Another 3% involved surgery on the wrong site, side or patient. Twenty-nine percent of all surgery-related claims ended in significant permanent injury while 9% involved the patient’s death.

Authors of the report say that operating rooms should be distraction-free environments. Visitors should not be allowed, music should not be playing and those engaged in a high-risk activity should not be forced to turn to non-essential duties.

As for those who are harmed through a doctor’s negligence, they may file their claim, but they are encouraged to see an attorney who works in the field of medical malpractice law. With such an attorney, victims may be able to better show how the defendant failed to adhere to an objective standard of medical care and how that failure directly or indirectly caused their injury. The attorney may handle all negotiations for a fair settlement, litigating if one cannot be achieved.