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How often do various surgical errors occur and why?


In Newton, and across the country, people who are preparing to undergo surgery must be aware of the possibility that a surgeon's mistake will cause them damage or even kill them. These surgical errors in its various forms are called "never events" because they are mistakes that should never happen. They are surgeries in which the wrong body part is operated on, the wrong procedure is done or the wrong patient is operated on.

Patients who are victimized by wrong-site surgery will not only have to face the fact that the original issue that was meant to be repaired by the surgery wasn't fixed, but they're going to have to have another procedure after the initial error. The perception based on the available numbers is that these mistakes are quite rare. One study examining these errors found that for every 112,000 procedures, only one will have surgical errors. The research, however, only counted surgeries in the operating room. Surgeries that were ambulatory would have raised the number of mistakes substantially. A Veterans Affairs study indicated that half the mistakes happened in venues apart from the operating room.

Safety practices are being implemented to avoid a surgeon mistake from occurring. Making certain that the correct surgical site is identified, that the right procedure is going to be done and the correct patient will receive the surgery will limit the number of surgical errors. These new strategies are not foolproof and other potential problems can arise such as different adherence to the requirements based on where the surgery is being performed.

Often, a lack of communication is a factor in surgical mistakes. A proposal to avoid this is to hesitate prior to performing the procedure to review the records of the patient and examine the planned procedure before moving forward.

There are circumstances in which there is little that can be done to stop these mistakes from happening as long as doctors and staff are under various pressures to complete a certain number of surgeries in a specific time frame. When a surgeon mistake or a fatal surgical error occurs, those who were victimized may benefit from discussing the matter with a legal professional experienced in cases such as these.

Source: psnet.ahrq.gov, "Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery," accessed on Jan. 12, 2015

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