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Houston beware: surgery deaths may be more common than we think

As readers in Houston, Texas know, going in for surgery can be scary. There is always the chance that something could go wrong, whether it's from unexpected complications or surgical errors. While these situations are rare, a new study may suggest they are not as rare as we might think.

The most recent data available in the U.S. suggests that 1.14 percent of patients who go in for surgery never leave the hospital. However, the new study on surgery death rates in Europe may have medical experts wondering if this figure isn't higher in the U.S.

Researchers in the United Kingdom found that 4 percent of patients studied in 28 European countries who underwent noncardiac surgery died. This number is much higher than previous national estimates for many countries. In the UK, the study showed the death rate was 3.6 percent, compared to the previous estimate that was only 1 percent.

According to U.S. doctors, the findings serve as a reminder that constant reevaluation is needed when it comes to medical services, especially those involving life-and-death situations.

When injury or illness forces a person to go see a doctor or go to the hospital, the person can generally be assured that a medical professional's years of training and experience will result in excellent treatment. However, medical care providers are not perfect. They can perform surgical errors such as improper organ transplant, organ damage, and other fatal surgical errors.

Doctors perform medical malpractice when their negligent acts or omissions result in damage or harm to a patient. If such negligence occurs, a legal case for medical malpractice can arise against the doctor, the hospital, and local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.

Before going in for surgery, it is important for a patient and his or her family to know that medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients' rights to pursue compensation if the medical services performed on them result in negligence. In order to obtain that compensation, a patient or his or her family can file a lawsuit against the entities mentioned above.

Source: ABC News, "Death After Surgery May Be More Common Than We Think," Chandani Patel, Sept. 21, 2012

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