Surgical errors put lives at risk

Researchers have found that surgical errors endanger the lives of many people who undergo procedures.

When people go into the operating room, they are putting their lives in the hands of surgeons and other medical professionals. While many of these professionals have years training and experience, mistakes can and do occur more often than some may think. Whether hours of continuous time on the job lead to fatigue and confusion, or pure negligence causes a surgeon to make a fatal error, some patients are at risk of losing their lives when lying on the operating room table.

The facts

It may be alarming to hear that surgeons operate on the wrong body part in 1 out of every 100,000 surgeries, according to an article published in JAMA Surgery. For example, a surgeon may operate on the right knee rather than the left, or in some cases, may perform a procedure on the wrong patient altogether. Furthermore, in 1 out of 10,000 surgeries, an item, such as a surgical sponge, gauze or tool, is left inside a person during an operation. This may lead to serious infection and even death months or years after the surgery occurred.

An article posted in Surgery estimated that surgeons leave instruments behind at least 39 times every week and operate on the wrong body part approximately 20 times every week. Researchers are studying the cause of these preventable errors in a way to minimize surgical injury and death.

A look at the cause

What causes these operating room mistakes? One of the most common factors is miscommunication between patients, surgeons and other medical professionals. This miscommunication can cause surgeons to perform the wrong surgery on the wrong patient. It can also lead to a miscount of surgical supplies, which may indicate something has been left behind in a patient.

Before going into the operating room, surgeons should meet with patients to go over the details of the procedure. During these encounters, surgeons should verify patient names, allergies and the type of procedure that is going to be performed. In some cases, surgeons may mark the operating site on the patient so there is no confusion during the procedure.

Getting help when you need it most

If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical negligence, you may want to speak to a personal injury attorney in Oregon regarding your rights. You may have had to suffer from additional procedures to fix a preventable error or may be accumulating medical expenses from these mistakes. You may be entitled to compensation that could help you get your life back on track.