What are the most common surgical errors?

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2024 | Personal Injury

The operating theater is a place where lives are saved, thanks to work done by surgeons and support professionals, including scrub nurses. However, errors sometimes occur during surgery, and they can result in serious and potentially life-altering consequences for a patient, underscoring the critical importance of rigorous safety protocols in the operating room.

While they may not be necessarily fatal, surgical errors pose a real danger to an affected patient. Knowing some of the common errors in the operating theater can help patients recognize any related harm that may have occurred during surgery so that they can advocate for their rights as soon as concerning symptoms develop.

Common surgical errors

The most common surgical error types include the following:

  • Wrong-site surgery: This is where a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body. This could involve operating on the wrong side of the body or the wrong organ. Despite rigorous protocols in place to prevent such errors, they still occur due to factors such as miscommunication, inadequate preoperative verification or failure to mark the correct surgical site.
  • Surgical instrument or foreign object retention: Sometimes, surgical instruments or foreign objects like sponges or gauze are unintentionally left inside the patient’s body after surgery. This can lead to infections, pain, and other complications, requiring additional surgery to remove the retained object.
  • Anesthesia errors: While anesthesia plays a major role in surgery, errors in its administration can lead to serious complications. These errors may include administering too much or too little anesthesia, using the wrong type of anesthesia, failing to properly monitor the patient during the procedure or not adequately preparing the patient for anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can result in anesthesia awareness (where the patient is conscious during surgery), allergic reactions, respiratory problems or even death.
  • Wrong surgery: As unbelievable as this may sound, sometimes patients undergo surgery intended for another individual. This may happen due to mix-ups in patient records, miscommunication among medical staff or errors in scheduling. Performing the wrong surgery can lead to unnecessary physical and emotional trauma for the patient, as well as potential complications from the procedure they didn’t need.

Surgical errors can result in expensive and painful consequences for patients, both physically and emotionally. If you suffer a surgical error, don’t hesitate to seek prompt medical attention and seek legal guidance to understand your options for recourse.

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