Surgery is one of the most dangerous medical procedures a patient can undergo. Even outpatient surgeries that do not require anesthesia could have life-threatening complications for a patient.
As you might expect, surgeons complete an extensive education to ensure they know how to safely perform operations. They also have support staff present in the operating room to help avoid mistakes and prevent oversights.
Despite the education and safety measures in place, surgical errors still affect thousands of people in the United States every year. How common are surgical errors in modern medical settings?
So-called never events happen much more than they should
Certain kinds of surgical errors are almost inevitable. Even the best anesthesiologist may not know ahead of time that a patient has an allergy to one of the medications that they used. Other kinds of surgical mistakes are completely preventable with proper oversight and care by the medical professionals involved.
Some of the worst surgical mistakes that can happen are never events. They have that name because they should never happen in a safe hospital. There are multiple never events, and each of them affects multiple surgeries every week in the United States.
Surgeons make mistakes about what procedure they perform or where
Have you ever wondered why you have to draw on your skin with a marker before surgery? That is a way to prevent a surgeon from operating on the wrong side of your body or in the wrong area.
Every week, an estimated 20 patients have a procedure performed on the wrong side of their bodies. Another 20 patients will undergo the wrong procedure because their surgeon makes a major mistake.
Surgeons leaving items behind and patience is shockingly common
The idea that a surgeon would just leave a scalpel, a clamp or a chunk of gauze inside someone’s incision while stitching them up seems crazy, but it happens all the time. Approximately 39 patients every week come out of surgery with a foreign body left inside them.
Those objects can cause trauma to the nearby tissue, especially if they are sharp or rigid. Even items like cotton balls could cause severe infection. Surgical mistakes not only require medical corrections but can also cause significant complications for the patients that they affect.
Taking legal action after a surgical error can help you recoup some of the medical costs and other damages you suffered because of that mistake.