Recent media stories highlighting medical error s in CT

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Efraim Gomez-Zapata, Stamford physician, will have a hearing this week before the medical examining board and is facing a civil suit. A family practitioner, Dr. Gomez is not board certified in cosmetic surgery or anesthesia. However, he has been advertising himself as a leader in laser liposuction surgery in the Hispanic community. Apparently this is allowed under CT law. However, two of his patients had to be taken to the emergency room due to problems during surgery. One suffered seizures and another difficulty breathing after Dr. Gomez administered anesthesia. Dr. Gomez is also charged with not obtaining appropriate consent from patients and operating an unlicensed and unsafe surgical facility.

Hartford Hospital will remain on probation with the Dept. of Public Health indefinitely due, in part, to medical errors including a surgeon leaving a 13 inch medical instrument, a malleable ribbon retractor, in a patient after closing this January. The instrument was removed in another surgery two days later after the patient returned to the hospital in pain.

CT hospitals reported 65 instances of “retained objects” between mid-2004 and mid-2008. Nationally, the rate of leaving something behind in surgeries is one in 7,000. Two other hospitals cited in consent orders include Yale-New Haven Hospital for leaving behind a sponge in one patient and a surgical pad in another, and John Dempsey Hospital cited for missing the tip of a needle in a patient. For DPH reports on hospital medical errors, click here.

Several safety initiatives have proven to reduce the incidence of errors during surgery. The World Health Organization has developed a set of checklists, used at three points during surgery, that has reduced deaths and complications by one third. The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality has a great deal of helpful information for consumers to ensure they receive safe, quality health care. To research your doctor, check the CT Physician Profile. To check your hospital’s record, go to Medicare’s Hospital Compare.
Ellen Andrews