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Articles Posted in Surgical Errors & Complications

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US%20ARMY%20MEDICAL.jpgSharon LaFraniere and Andrew W. Lerhen from the New York Times continue to investigate Medical Malpractice in military hospitals. The two reporters who last June provided an in-depth analysis of the flaws of the military hospital system (see “In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny” ) recently published a new article focusing on the high risk of medical malpractice in small military hospitals. Military hospitals with a turnover of 10 to 30 patients a day are often staffed with inexperienced doctors and nurses who are not busy enough to keep their skills sharp. Most of them are poorly managed and run by untrained and inexperienced physicians with a culture of complacency that threatens patients safety.
Most of these small military hospitals are being considered for closing or transforming into outpatient facilities by the Pentagon as part of its plan to scale back costs but political obstacles are preventing streamlining the system.

Read the complete article here

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Potential medical malpractice during a routine procedure for her vocal cords may have lead to the death of Joan Rivers earlier Today. A few days ago we wrote that the 81 year old comedian and TV personality had to be rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York after she stopped breathing during vocal cord surgery (see previous blog). After doctors at Mount Sinai tried unsuccessfully to bring her out of her coma, her daughter Melissa gave the go-ahead to remove her mother from life support Today. RIP Joan Rivers. New York state health officials are investigating the outpatient clinic where Joan Rivers underwent the endoscopic procedure before she stopped breathing last week. It will be interesting to learn the role anesthesia played in leading to her respiratory distress and cardiac arrest. She was a ground breaker and will be missed.
Read more in the Daily Beast

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Famous comedian Joan Rivers suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest while she was undergoing an operation for a vocal cord at a clinic located at 201 E. 93rd St in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital. According to the comedian’s assistant Joan Rivers was not conscious but was stable. The latest news is that she is now resting comfortably.
Read more in the NY Daily News

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Liliana Coello a phony doctor from Queens, NYC, pleaded guilty of unlawfully practicing medicine and seriously injuring a patient. She was sentenced to two years in jail. Coello gave a botched butt lift to a patient and injected her buttocks with Krazy Glue in a follow up visit. The patient suffered a very bad infection and had to be hospitalized 3 times.

This is not the first time Coello is being sent to jail for a botched butt lift. In 2012 the phony doctor got paid $3200 for surgery on the derriere of a Brooklyn night club worker during which she injected the woman with clear gel.

Read more in the NY Daily News


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Dr Oleg Davie, A Brooklyn surgeon whose patient died during a botched liposuction procedure will go to jail for two months and will be on probation for 5 years.
A medical examiner changed the manner of death from “undetermined” to “homicide (physician negligence)” after speaking with Brooklyn prosecutors, court records show.

Read more in the New York Daily News

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Getting cheap cosmetic surgery in a foreign country can be risky. Medical malpractice such as surgical errors and hospital negligence have a higher risk of happening in foreign hospitals because medical standards are lower than in the US. Recently, a young New York woman who decided to go to The Dominican Republic to get a cheaper tummy tuck and liposuction died from a massive pulmonary embolism on the operating table.

Beverly Brignony was 28 years old. She was married and had a 4 year old daughter. She had gastric bypass surgery a year earlier and since she had lost 80 pounds. she was very excited about getting a tummy tuck and liposuction her friends said.

Because her flight was delayed, she arrived at The Dominican Republic Hospital late at night before the surgery started early the next morning. She may not have received a proper medical evaluation before the surgery and the medical staff may not have taken into account the higher risk of embolism related to the fact that she sat on a plane for several hours before the surgery.

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Surgical errors and complications occurring during robotic laparoscopic surgery have to be reported by hospitals to the robot manufacturers. The manufacturers will then report them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Because of the financial interests at stake hospitals and manufacturers tend to keep complaints quiet. An independent and transparent reporting system may provide a more accurate picture of the actual level of safety of robotic surgery.

According to a study led by Martin A. Makary, M.D., M.P.H., an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, more than one million robotic surgeries have been performed in 12 years but only 245 complications including 71 deaths were reported to the FDA. For a new and complex technology these numbers seemed too low to Dr. Makary and his team. To prove their assumption, the researchers compared the incidents reported to the FDA between 2000 and 2012 with legal judgments and adverse events using LexisNexis to scan news media, and PACER to scan court records. They found that 8 cases were not properly reported. Among them some were never filed and other were filed after the media talked about them.

The study also reveals that out of the 71 deaths, 22 were related to gynecologic procedures, 15 happened during urologic surgery and 12 during cardiothoracic surgery. The most common cause of death was excessive bleeding. When patients survived, hysterectomy was the robotic surgical procedure that had the most complications with 43% of all injuries.

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New data from New York DOH unveil mortality rates for cardiac surgery by hospitals and by type of procedure. Even though some procedures are by nature riskier than others, New Yorkers suffering from heart conditions should understand that not every hospital offers the same level of safety.

Based on the data provided by The New York State Health Department here are some of the findings:

Valve surgery is the riskiest type of cardiac surgery with a mortality rate of 4.59% for New York State between 2008 and 2010. PCI or Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, sometimes also called coronary angioplasty or coronary stenting is the less risky of all types of cardiac surgeries as long as it is a planned surgery. It becomes riskier when it is an emergency procedure.


The following graphs show the mortality rate by hospital for the various type of procedures. Because some hospitals may deal with riskier cases than others the graphs show 3 types of mortality rates:
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Complications during or after surgery are happening too often at New York City, St Luke’s Hospital. The Hospital scored a low overall surgery rating on the new Consumer Reports surgery safety rating. The safest hospitals in the city to have surgery are Mount Sinai, NYU Langone Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Consumer Reports looked at medicare claims data from 2009 through 2011 for patients undergoing 27 categories of common scheduled surgeries. For each hospital, the results for all procedures are combined into an overall surgery rating.The global ranking is based on who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for their procedure. More detail by type of surgery as well as a hospital ranking by state can be found on the Consumer Reports website.

Most common surgery complications are bad reaction to anesthesia, heart problems or surgeon nicking a blood vessel, leaving an instrument inside, or even operating on the wrong body part. Complications can also happen after the surgery. Nationally, 30 percent of patients suffer infections, heart attacks, strokes, or other complications after surgery and sometimes even die as a result.

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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection is caused by a specific staph bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to treat. If not diagnosed on time MRSA can be life threatening. MRSA is a major concern for hospitals where the superbug can attack older patients or those suffering from weakened immune system. Patients necessitating medical tubing such as intravenous line or catheters are also at risk as well as patients staying in nursing homes. MRSA is also an issue in child care centers, military camps and jails.

There is an urgent need to find therapeutic ways to fight this superbug. In research appearing in the Journal PLOS ONE , Shelley Haydel, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute demonstrate that particular metal ions attached to the clay may have the potential to kill MRSA as well as a range of other dangerous pathogens including E-coli. Medical property of clay has been recognized since antiquity when it was used for its wound healing property.