The basics of surgical errors

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It could be every patient’s worst nightmare. You go in for surgery, trust your doctor and medical team to address your injury or illness and leave the operation room in worse shape than you entered. Sometimes the error is obvious, such as operating on the wrong side of the body or on the wrong organ. But at times, the nightmare could be even worse when you consider the fact that you often are not even aware anything is wrong.
You wake up groggy and on multiple medications to minimize the pain and help address your surgery. But as the days or weeks move on, you notice symptoms that do not correspond with the typical recovery process. Although such errors are typically rare, occurring in 1 out of every 112,000 surgical procedures at hospitals, this does not take into account the errors that occur in smaller settings such as private doctor’s offices or treatment centers.
In order to prevent such errors, there is a universal protocol that includes a timeout prior to all invasive procedures. This allows all doctors, surgeons and medical professionals to go through a checklist to confirm what the procedure entails and where the procedure is to take place.
Although this can act as a good way to help minimize surgical errors, the fact remains that errors still occur. As you can see, there are any number of surgical errors that could leave a patient with serious or catastrophic new injuries or illnesses that could affect not only a patient’s current health but could also have long-term or even life-long consequences. Thus, a medical malpractice suit might be an option, helping to offset the damages and losses caused by the unfortunate incident.
Source: Patient Safety Network, “Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery,” July 2016