Every year thousands of patients fall victim to surgical error. A surgical error is a form of medical malpractice and is considered a preventable mistake that occurs during surgery. An Institute of Medicine study shows that medical error is the cause of an estimated 98,000 deaths per year. There are many different surgical errors that can occur during an operation. U.S. hospitals reported that the following surgical errors are the most common:
- The wrong patient is operated on – In this instance, a doctor may conduct a surgery on the wrong person. Although hospitals and surgery centers are required to have a patient verification system in place, this system is not fool-proof and is not always followed by the healthcare providers. This not only delays the correct patient’s surgery but also can cause dangerous side effects to the patient who received the wrong surgery.
- Surgical equipment is left inside a patient – After conducting a long surgery, medical staff or surgeons may accidentally leave operating tools inside of the patient. Depending on the foreign material let in the patient, this can have deadly consequences. At a minimum, a patient will likely need a second, unnecessary operation to remove the foreign material. This additional surgery unnecessarily subjects the patient to the risks of anesthesia and the complications associated with cutting into the body.
- Wrong Procedure performed on patient – This occurs when a doctor performs the wrong procedure on a patient. Like the other surgical errors that can occur, this can have deadly consequences for the patient by delaying the correct surgery. This delay occurs because the patient then must wait to heal only to have the same body part worked on with the correct procedure.
- The wrong site of a procedure – Miscommunications can occur in the medical field resulting in the incorrect organ or body part being operated on. Imagine going in for hernia surgery and waking up after surgery and finding out your appendix was removed! This mistake not only prolongs the correct surgery but also results in healthy organs and tissues being wrongfully removed from your body.