Surgery is one of the most invasive and intimidating medical treatments that a doctor might recommend. For certain conditions, it may also be the only viable means of treating someone’s injury or illness.
Like other medical professionals, surgeons attend years of school and must complete very demanding internships before they can practice their profession. Despite all of the regulations in place for the protection of patients, surgical errors are still relatively common in modern hospitals. There are numerous types of surgical errors that occur quite regularly across the United States. The four below are among the most serious and common surgical errors reported annually.
Some of the worst surgical errors actually occur before the procedure technically starts. Anesthesia is incredibly dangerous even if it is necessary for a surgical procedure. Errors in dosage, the administration of the wrong drug or failure to check for a possible allergy could all be examples of anesthesia-related surgical errors that result in tragic outcomes for individuals.
Wrong site and wrong procedure mistakes
Sometimes, a surgeon performs a procedure on the wrong part of someone’s body. They might operate on the wrong side or on the wrong body part entirely. Other times, a surgeon with multiple back-to-back procedures might perform the wrong surgical operation on one patient. Such mistakes can have devastating medical consequences and may make someone ineligible for the treatment that they actually require to improve their condition.
Retained foreign bodies
Occasionally, surgeons will finish a procedure and close a surgical incision, only to realize too late that there are missing forceps or sponges. If a surgeon leaves objects behind inside a patient’s body, a revision procedure is almost always necessary. Patients will have an elevated risk of both infection and severe internal trauma if the item left behind is sharp or rigid.
Surgeons all too often wash their hands of a patient’s care as soon as they leave the operating room. However, a patient’s recovery depends on proper education about restrictions after their surgery and careful post-surgical oversight provided by medical professionals. Infections, reopened incisions and secondary injuries are all possible when surgeons and their support staff do not adequately follow up with patients after a major procedure.
When a patient struggling to recover after a surgery or loved ones who have lost a family member to a surgical procedure can connect their unfortunate circumstances with mistakes and oversights during, before or after the procedure, they may be able to successfully pursue a medical malpractice claim. Holding a surgeon and/or their employer accountable for major surgical errors can lead to both compensation for the affected individuals and also changes in practices at the facility where the mistake occurred.