Surgery is the first line of treatment for a broad range of medical conditions. Everything from substantial fractures to soft tissue damage can benefit from surgical intervention. Surgery can remove tumors, strengthen damaged tissue and even facilitate the healthy birth of a child.
While thoughts of having an operation might scare some people, most people recognize that the benefits of the surgery far outweigh the risks. However, for a minority of patients, a surgery may have negative and even devastating consequences.
When surgical mistakes happen in an operation, the patient may have to undergo substantial, extra care or may even have to completely alter their treatment because of a surgical mistake. Sometimes, surgical errors can even cost a patient their life.
What are some of the more common surgical mistakes?
As surprising as it may be to read, a surgeon leaving something behind in the patient is one of the more common mistakes they can make. A piece of gauze or clamp might not catch someone’s attention before they close the incision. Leaving items behind will typically require medication treatments and additional surgery.
Unfortunately, not all surgical errors are that easy to correct. When surgeons perform wrong-side surgeries, wrong-site surgeries or the wrong procedure on a patient, that patient may not have the option of undergoing the same treatment they would have needed.
For example, if you have tumors in your left kidney and the surgeon removes your healthy right kidney, simply removing the left kidney will no longer be the best course of care. Although hospitals do have practices in place to limit these massive mistakes, they do still happen with some frequency.
How common are wrong-location or wrong surgery mistakes?
Any surgical procedure has some degree of risk for such mistakes, although these probably only occur in roughly one of every 112,000 surgeries. Still, experts estimate that the average hospital could have one claim due to a serious surgical error related to the wrong site or procedure every five to 10 years.
Surgical mistakes can have devastating consequences for a patient and their immediate family members. Both the victims of surgical errors and surviving family members could potentially have the right to bring a medical malpractice claim against the surgeon who made the mistake or the facility where it occurred, depending on the specific circumstances.