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On 11/5/20, the Iowa Association for Justice (f/k/a the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association) named Russ Hixson, of Hixson & Brown, the Outstanding Member Award recipient for 2020.

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Surgical errors threaten patient health

When people in Iowa undergo surgery, they may face at least some risk of complications even when everything goes well during the procedure. However, in many cases, medical errors are to blame when people suffer injuries and negative health consequences after a surgical operation. Across the country, surgical errors are the second most common reason for medical malpractice claims, after misdiagnoses and other diagnostic errors. According to one study, one-quarter of all medical malpractice claims were linked to surgical mistakes, mostly during the procedure itself.

While over three-quarters of these malpractice claims were related to doctor errors during the surgery, other aspects of surgical treatment were also harmful to patients. In some cases, recovery care was insufficient or negligent; in other cases, the decision to order the surgical procedure was itself questionable. Certain types of surgical specialties were more likely to involve dangerous errors, including general surgery, orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery. Of these claims, around 29% involved severe cases of permanent, significant damage or even the patient’s death due to a surgical error.

The largest single category of malpractice claims for surgical mistakes, making up 39% of the total, addressed surgeons who allegedly lacked the technical education and knowledge to successfully perform the procedure. Other claims addressed poor decision-making by doctors in ordering or performing the surgery. Smaller numbers of cases addressed more dramatic errors, including patients with foreign objects left inside the surgical cavity or cases where the surgery was performed on the wrong body part or the wrong patient.

When people go in for surgery, they often want to trust that they will improve their health, not face significant complications as a result of a doctor’s mistake. Patients injured due to a surgical error may consult with a medical malpractice attorney about their options to pursue compensation.

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