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Surgical Errors: Are There More at Teaching Hospitals?

A new study published in the Annals of Surgery found that there is a difference between teaching hospitals and non-teaching hospitals in the rate of complications from emergency surgery.

It is generally accepted by most medical professors that teaching hospitals get more highly challenging cases than the average non-teaching hospital. But the researchers who conducted the study believe that their findings will help hospitals of all types improve emergency surgery practices - and therefore reduce the number of surgical errors.

Results of Study

The study reported in Annals of Surgery found that 28 out of every 1,000 patients at teaching hospitals died due to emergency surgery complications, compared to 23 out of every 1,000 at non-teaching hospitals. Some post-surgery complications, like abnormal growths and infections, occur at a higher rate at teaching hospitals. But intestinal blockage is 18 percent less likely at a teaching hospital than a non-teaching hospital.

A previous study, by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2008, found that medical errors that occur after surgery cost the United States $1.5 billion per year. Errors involving respiratory failure or infection after surgery are particularly expensive.

This finding suggests that the real issue is not teaching hospitals versus non-teaching hospitals. Rather, it is the sheer extent of errors that occur in both types of hospitals.

The lesson for patients is that just going to a hospital with a good reputation does not protect you from medical malpractice. This study discusses the immediate monetary medical cost this malpractice causes, but does not discuss the human cost to the patients and their families. As lawyers for the people who make up these "statistics," we believe that the losses are much greater. Loss of life, pain and the ripple effect to their families is much greater than the statistics suggest.

Comparing Types of Hospitals

Comparing the differences between teaching hospitals and other hospitals is like comparing apples and oranges. This is because most medical professors agree that teaching hospitals get more complex patients than non-teaching hospitals.

The risk of errors and post-surgical complications is real, in all hospitals that perform surgery. If you or a family member has been harmed, contact an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney at our firm.

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