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Internet search may save Maryland patients from surgical errors

The Internet has been a positive development for society at large because it makes limitless information available to the average Americans. Maryland residents rely on Internet access to research area restaurants, view the housing market and find available hotels. It would seem a next for Maryland Internet users is to use the Internet's search capabilities to discover previous history and successes for a chosen surgeon or medical practitioner.

Surgical errors cost thousands of patients their lives every year. More than 440,000 deaths each year are attributed to surgical errors. This tragedy is heightened by the observation that most surgical errors made by highly trained doctors and surgeons are usually avoidable. In many cases, these surgical errors are so obvious that other doctors reviewing these errors cannot comprehend why and how a doctor with extensive training could have made such an error. These obvious surgical errors are termed "never events" because most of the medical community believe that these errors should never have been committed.

With the number of surgical errors increasing to the point where they have become the third highest cause of death for Americans, more and more victims of medical errors and their dependents are consulting with experienced attorneys to initiate medical malpractice lawsuits. So, can Internet research help reduce the number of surgical errors?

ProPublica, a non-profit organization, recently created a search engine dedicated to providing a medical review of medical practitioners, so patients can find out the performance history and success rates of a chosen doctor. Data have been collected from hundreds of Medicare patients who were treated and then received additional treatment by their surgeons. These patient records and outcomes are now available to the general public through this website, and the information they provide might help a patient choose a surgeon and understand the various options available when needed.

Source: Health Line, "How good is your surgeon??Now you can look it up," Brian Krans, July 15, 2015

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