Going through surgery can be a difficult time for the patient as well as their loved ones. Learning you or a family member must have a surgical procedure done is a daunting thought that carries with it fear, stress and worry. Although all surgical procedures involve a certain amount of risk, and patients are required to sign consent forms advising them of known risks, there are some mistakes that go beyond the realm of acceptable risk. Surgical errors are unnecessary mistakes that are preventable when the right processes and procedures are in effect. While some errors are caused by a healthcare professional’s incompetence, most result from poor planning, faulty machines or inadequate work processes. Healthcare professionals are often required to make quick decisions based on the medical situation at hand. When the wrong decision is made or when a mistake is made, unfortunately it’s the patient who suffers.
CNN.com lists some of the most common surgical errors as:
- Treating the wrong patient
- Cause: Hospital staff fails to verify a patient's identity.
- Consequences: Patients with similar names are confused.
- Surgical souvenirs
- Cause: Surgical staff miscounts (or fails to count) equipment used inside a patient during an operation.
- Consequences: Tools get left inside the body.
- Mistake: Operating on the wrong body part
- Cause: A patient's chart is incorrect, or a surgeon misreads it, or surgical draping obscures marks that denote the correct side of the operation.
- Consequences: The surgeon cuts into the wrong side of a patient's body.
- Infection infestation
- Cause: Doctors and nurses don't wash their hands.
- Consequences: Patients can die from infections spread by hospital workers.
- Waking up during surgery
- Cause: An under-dose of anesthesia.
- Consequences: The brain stays awake while the muscles stay frozen. Most patients aren't in any pain but some feel every poke, prod and cut.
Not all surgical errors can be prevented, but you can decrease your chances for having a surgical mistake happen to you by following these tips: before surgery, make sure the staff checks your entire name, date of birth and barcode on your wristband; if you have unexpected pain, fever or excessive swelling, don’t be afraid to ask if you might have a surgical instrument inside of you – insist on an x-ray or get a second opinion; confirm (check online) that your doctor is properly licensed -- find out how skilled he is in this procedure and ask how many times he’s performed this surgery; just before your surgery, confirm with your nurse and your surgeon the correct body part and side of your operation (some doctors will have you physically mark and sign near the site); and finally, when you schedule your surgery, ask if you need to be put asleep or if local anesthesia might work just as well.
Ensuring your health and well-being before, during and after surgery should always be top of mind for you and your loved ones, especially during complex surgeries such as those involving the heart, brain or spine. It’s best to have a friend or loved one help you during all phases of the surgery (before, during and after), to ensure you get the best care. Suffering during or after surgery because of someone else’s negligence is something no one should have to endure. If you or a loved one sustained an injury during or after a surgical procedure and would like to seek advice for a medical malpractice lawsuit, please contact our law firm at 305-448-8585 or call toll free at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation with a highly experienced lawyer. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.