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Hospital stops infant heart surgery due to surgical errors

Toward the end of 2011, a hospital in another state began doing heart surgery on infants. By June 2015, no less than nine babies died at the hospital. Michigan readers might be relieved to know that -- finally, in Aug. 2015 -- the program was shut down due to the inordinate amount of surgical errors that led to those deaths.

Several surgeons throughout the country, including one here in Michigan, reported that they have seen infants whose surgeries were performed incorrectly. In some cases, the surgeon operated on the wrong body part. Children might be resilient when it comes to injuries, but some mistakes are too much for their fragile little bodies to overcome.

When a child is transferred to another hospital, the situation is often precarious. One surgeon commented that, by the time he sees the children, they are near death. Some of them can be saved, but others cannot recover and lose their lives. Those who do survive could be left with lifelong issues.

Not all hospitals are like the one in Florida that had to shut down its program. There are hospitals whose success rates with pediatric cardiac surgery are impressive. However, one study indicated that the mortality rate can be as much as 38.4 percent, which means that more than one-third of the surgeries are unsuccessful.

Parents who lose children due to surgical errors may exercise their right to file medical malpractice claims against the surgeons and other medical personnel who are believed to be responsible. Proving negligence could lead to an award of damages. Even though a successfully litigated claim will not undo the tragedy that has already occurred, it could help prevent another child from needlessly dying due to a surgeon's mistake.

Source: CNN, "Are children's heart surgery hospitals up to the task?", Elizabeth Cohen, Jan. 13, 2016

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