When Surgery Goes Wrong
Having to go into the hospital for surgery is one of those situations that can make anyone anxious. You worry about your health, the effects of the anesthesia, and whether the procedure you are having will actually help your condition. Most of the time, surgical procedures are performed without a hitch, and the patient is better off in the long run after having the procedure done.
Unfortunately, there are exceptions. More often than you might think, surgical errors occur that leave patients with permanent, and life altering, consequences. What could be more horrifying than waking up from anesthesia to discover your surgeon performed the wrong procedure on you, or removed the wrong body part, or even simply failed to completely close the surgical site? The potential for surgical error is a reality every patient, as well as the surgeon, needs to face.
Common Surgical Errors
It is estimated that approximately 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the U.S. These errors range from minor incidents that cause little harm to the patient, such as forgetting to remove a surgical sponge, to major catastrophic events, such as operating on the wrong body part. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, common surgical errors typically center on one of the following three areas:
- Wrong site errors, such as operating on the left leg as opposed to the right, or on the wrong level of the spine, which is surprisingly common
- Wrong procedure errors, such as completely removing a breast, when a biopsy was what was required
- Wrong patient errors, such as errors occurring when two people have similar last names, or their charts get confused. Here, each patient gets the procedure that was intended for the other
These surgical mistakes are known as “never events”, named because they are things that are never supposed to happen in a hospital and indicate a serious breach of safety.
Precautions to Take Before Surgery
As a patient, you are your own best advocate, and there are certain precautions you can take to help protect yourself against surgical errors. The Joint Commission is the largest health care accrediting body in the U.S., and there are several things they advise patients to be aware of prior to surgery:
- Read your consent form correctly, and make sure all the information in it is completely accurate
- The hospital staff should ask you several times about the kind of procedure you are having performed, or about the site of your surgery. If they don’t ask, speak up and tell each staff member who treats you what you are having done
- Hospital staff will mark the site of your procedure prior to surgery; make sure they’ve marked the correct spot
- After the surgery, if you experience an abnormal amount for pain, or experience any side effects, let hospital personnel know immediately
Contact Our Experienced South Carolina Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Surgical errors happen. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to errors by your doctor or hospital staff, contact the Anastopoulo Law Firm immediately. Our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys are on your side and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, call Akim Anastopoulo today for a free review of your case.