Surgical errors are very rare; in fact, an important study on the subject showed that only one in around 112,000 surgical procedures include an error for which a physician or health care organization may be liable. But they can have disastrous consequences when they happen, leading to permanent changes in a patient’s life.
What are the common types of surgical errors?
Surgeons take great care in their work, so the most common form of error is when something is in the wrong place. This may apply to the part of the body that a surgeon is attending to or even the patient, as around 5% of surgical errors occur when the patient is not the person expected by the surgeon.
What usually goes wrong in surgical errors?
It is most likely that a surgical error will affect the wrong side of a patient during a nonbilateral procedure, which is one that should affect only one side of the body. Occasionally, a procedure will be on the right side but at the wrong site. A procedure may be incorrect as well, such as the removal of an organ that should have been bisected or biopsied instead.
How do people prevent surgical errors?
Patients should introduce themselves to clinical staff to ensure they are the expected subject of surgery, and marking the proper surgical site is recommended by experts. If a surgical error has occurred, it may be a good idea to retain legal representation while it is investigated. Patients and their families may be entitled to financial damages if a procedure left a lasting effect.