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Is Surgery Safe in Georgia Hospitals?

Eighteen neurological surgery patients in North Carolina may have been exposed to a fatal brain disease because of hospital error. On January 18, 2014, a patient with Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease (CJD) underwent surgery at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem. The instruments used in the CJD patient’s surgery were not properly sanitized before reuse in the eighteen other patients’ surgeries. CJD is a degenerative brain disease that kills 90 percent of patients within one year. Yet such serious and sometimes fatal surgical procedural errors are common in hospitals.

According to a 2012 study by Johns Hopkins University, “never events” — errors that never should have happened — occur at least 4,000 times a year. These include:

  • Leaving a foreign object in the patient
  • Performing the wrong surgery
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Administering incompatible blood or blood products
  • Using contaminated drugs or devices

Until recently, patients have had extremely limited access to data on the frequency of errors at the hospitals where they have surgery. Now patients can consult a study by Consumer Reports, rating hospitals for 27 different surgeries, bloodstream infections, avoided readmissions and drug information. The data is based on the percentage of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who die in the hospital or stay longer than expected. The report includes ratings for 142 Georgia hospitals.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of hospital negligence, a dedicated personal injury attorney can help.