Are Doctors More Prone to Medical Mistakes During Residency?
A medical malpractice lawsuit filed against Yale-New Haven Hospital raises some important questions on whether doctors undergoing training can be a threat to patient safety. The lawsuit claims a doctor still in his residency removed the wrong body part from a patient, one of the worst mistakes possible.
Why was his patient so upset? The lawsuit claims he removed the wrong rib during surgery and never apologized for the mistake. Removing the wrong body part and not even saying sorry is an acceptable reason to be upset, but it gets worse.
This was an important surgery because the rib that should have been operated on had a cancerous lesion. According to the lawsuit, the doctor attempted to cover up his mistake so he could conduct a second surgery and cover his tracks, even though the patient would be placed at significant risk for pain and disability. Most doctors in training are not this unethical, but mistakes during residency may be common.
Time for the Bad News: Medical Mistakes During Residency Are Common
A study released by the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2005 linked teaching hospitals with medical mistakes. The study claims teaching hospitals require inexperienced health care professionals to care for large groups of people with complex illnesses, which can negatively affect patient safety.
In a survey of 700 doctors completing their residencies, half reported treating patients who suffered from adverse events. An additional quarter of those doctors admitted they were to blame for the errors. These were not minor adverse events either, but significant mistakes that put their patients in serious danger.
Another study released by the Institute of Medicine in 2008 linked poor resident supervision with medical mistakes. The study urged teaching hospitals to have measurable standards to avoid mistakes and greater onsite supervision. Doctors must undergo residency to master their craft, so there must be solutions to ensure patients are not put in danger.
Mistakes like the one at Yale-New Haven Hospital should not happen. The patient in this story suffered pain and disability from a preventable error. Doctors in training should be properly supervised while conducting vital operations on patients. If prior reports linking poor supervision and medical mistakes are correct, this may be one of many ways to help doctors in training and to bolster patient safety.
The Tampa Bay medical malpractice attorneys at Shapiro Law Group are dedicated to helping patients and families affected by hospital errors.