Montana residents may be aware that the law entitles people who suffer unnecessary harm as a result of careless medical care can seek compensation under the law. What many people do not realize, however, is that medical and surgical errors happen far more frequently than people know.

Of course, some medical mistakes can be immediately recognized. However, according to a recent study, many patients may never be given knowledge of medical mistakes, which is certainly cause for concern. As a result, many of these errors never end up being addressed through medical malpractice lawsuits.

Certain types of surgical errors are referred to as “never events.” These are the events are not supposed to happen under any circumstances. Never events include mistakes like operating on the wrong body part or leaving medical instruments or surgical sponges inside a patient after an operation. A study published in a medical journal late last year concluded that these types of never events result in serious harm to patients.

By one estimate, doctor error leads to operating on the wrong body part some 20 times each week. More than twice as often, a sponge or surgical towel is left inside a patient. Across the nation, more than 4,000 of these events take place every year.

Medication errors may happen even more frequently. A study indicated that patients are almost never informed about mistakes involving prescription drugs. The study concluded that only about 2 percent of medication errors are disclosed to patients.

Patients in Montana may need to remain vigilant for any indications of doctor negligence or surgical error and follow up with a reputable medical professional if anything seems out of the ordinary after a surgery or the start of a new prescription. This is especially true considering that doctors aren’t always as transparent as they should be.

Source: Tuscaloosa News, “PEOPLE’S PHARMACY: Health care is riskier than flying,” Joe and Terry Graedon, Jan. 31, 2013