While there are many types of surgical errors, there are some common ones that if you are getting prepared to undergo surgery may be able to be avoided. Perhaps you’ve heard that patients often write on their body parts that will be involved in the procedure, “This one,” or on the other side, “Wrong side.” This may seem overly cautious, but after learning Web MD reported there were at least 4,000 complaints about surgical mistakes annually. That large number does not even include mistakes that may go unreported because they weren’t discovered immediately. Though we place a lot of trust in doctors and their staff, the reality is that they are still humans and mistakes during surgery do occur frequently.
Here are the top six most common surgical errors:
- Foreign objects left in the body, such as a staple, forcep, or surgical sponge leading to infection or other complication.
- Operating on the wrong body part or the wrong patient
- Anesthesia or medication errors such as giving a dose too weak or strong or one patient has a known allergy or adverse reaction to.
- Poor hygiene leading to infections.
- Untreated complications from surgery, such as blood clots. Often these are preventable. Ask your practitioner if they can prescribe a drug like Coumadin to prevent these.
- Misdiagnosis is another common error. Often in this instance, surgery was not necessary to begin with. While there are systems in place to try to prevent these things from happening, such as checklists to keep track of the number of sponges and instruments used, errors still occur. There have been efforts to technologically improve these methods, by using sponges that can be detected by a scanner, for example, but this doesn’t have widespread use yet.
While the responsibility to correctly perform a surgery lies in the hands of the surgeons themselves, you can take measures to protect yourself as well. When a surgery is first recommended, make sure you get as much detail about your condition as possible. Ask your doctor about every possible treatment, as well as not receiving the procedure. Some patients chose to get a second opinion from a doctor who is not a surgeon.
If surgery is the best option and/or you decide surgery is the course of action you want to take, ask your doctor about the risks of an operation, the safety measures that will be used to protect you from surgical error, and any other questions you have. Do not feel awkward or impolite to be asking these types of questions of the doctor. You have every right to understand what will be done during the operation, and it’s important to make sure they have procedures for preventing incidents like the errors listed above. In the medical field, this is known as Informed Consent.
If you had a surgical complication and your doctor did not do this before the surgery, it is important to mention that fact to a medical malpractice lawyer Naperville IL relies on.
If you undergo surgery and believe an error or complication occurred, talk to your doctor right away. Doctors will almost always be able to bring you back in to fix the error or find another solution for you. This may even be free of charge, depending on the situation. Surgical error can lead to serious injury or health issues, so do not hesitate if you believe an error occurred.
A medical malpractice claim may be an option for you as well. To do this, you usually need to have a medical assessment completed by another physician to examine your condition and figure out whether the error was due to the negligence of your other doctor/surgeon. If you plan to file a claim, a medical malpractice attorney can be extremely beneficial. It is not easy to prove fault for medical malpractice and the process can get confusing as it involves trying to interpret a lot of medical jargon.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian for their insight into medical malpractice suits.