Medical doctors, especially surgeons, typically enjoy a relatively elevated social status. Most people hold medical professionals in high regard. That deference is a result of both the amount of schooling required for medical doctors and the higher incomes their jobs command. However, just because someone finished medical school and makes a lot of money doesn’t mean that they are immune to making mistakes.
Doctors often make small mistakes. When a surgeon makes an error, however, the consequences for the patient can be life-altering. Educating yourself about the most common surgical mistakes can help you make informed decisions before seeking any kind of operation in the future. For those already suffering due to surgical mistakes, understanding that these issues often are preventable may give you the courage to hold the doctors involved accountable.
Surgical ”never events” should not happen when best practices are followed
There are different kinds of mistakes. Sometimes, a doctor skips a step in a procedure and a nurse reminds him or her of the oversight. Other times, however, a mistake is so egregious that there is simply no excuse for it happening. These kinds of mistakes, called “never events” because they should never happen, are much more common than you might think.
Most hospitals, clinics and private practices have rules and best practice standards in place to protect their patients. When a doctor deviates from those best practices, a medical tragedy could be the outcome. According to an analysis of medical malpractice settlements between 1990 and 2010, more than 10,000 of these never events happened in just that 20-year window.
The three most common forms of surgical mistakes are horrifying
You may imagine that surgeries with complex processes are the biggest risks. Brain and intricate heart surgeries and nerve repair operations could top any list of complex, lengthy operations. However, these kinds of surgeries are often more closely attended than common operations, like a joint replacement surgery. Any activities, even surgeries, that become routine could become potential medical mistakes.
The most common surgical never event between 1990 and 2010 involved surgeons accidentally leaving objects inside patients after surgery. This happened roughly 39 times each week across the country. The objects left inside the patient varied from sponges and gauze to sharp surgical implements. All of these items carry a risk of infection, while some could also cause traumatic injuries to the patients. Generally, corrective surgeries are necessary to fix these problems, causing longer recovery times and creating unnecessary risks for the patients.
The other two most common surgical mistakes both happen about 20 times a week. They are performing the wrong operations on patients and operating on the wrong body sites. It’s easy to see how these mistakes could cause massive complications and expenses for patients. Those who suffer these kinds of medical mistakes should carefully consider the available options to recoup their financial losses.