Despite the efforts most surgical professionals make to prevent them, serious
surgical mistakes sometimes occur. The medical community refers to these
types of mistakes as “never events”—events that should
never happen—and yet
a study by Johns Hopkins reveals that at least 4,000 of these “never events” happen
every year. Let’s look at four examples.
Occasionally, surgeons will perform a surgical procedure on the wrong organ
or wrong part of the body. This mistake usually happens due to communication
errors among the staff. Wrong-site surgery amplifies the risk to the patient
because a) the affected body part is now injured in a way it shouldn’t
have been; and b) the body part requiring surgery still has not been properly
treated once surgery is complete.
If paperwork gets handled improperly (which happens frequently), a surgeon
may accidentally perform a surgical procedure on the wrong patient, effectively putting
two patients in serious jeopardy—one who is left untreated, and one
who had an unnecessary procedure.
- Leaving a Foreign Object Inside after Surgery
Not just the stuff of TV dramas, surgeons sometimes close up a surgical
site while carelessly leaving a foreign object inside the patient (for
example, sponges, clamps, towels, even sharp objects). For obvious reasons,
this error can be extremely dangerous or fatal to the patient.
Errors involving the administration of medication (whether the wrong medicine
or an improper dosage) are quite common throughout the medical community.
When this mistake occurs in the context of surgery when a patient is more
vulnerable, improper medication can have serious or deadly consequences.
While these “never events” are comparatively rare, even one
such mistake is one too many. To reduce the risk of these types of errors,
be sure to check reviews of your hospital and surgeons to be sure you’re
comfortable with their track record and experience, and ask them about
the safeguards they have in place.
For more information,
this recent post provides some powerful tools to help you research your doctor and hospital.
If you are the victim of a medical error, our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Call our offices for more information.