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How common are serious surgical mistakes?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Medical Malpractice |

The idea of someone cutting you open and implanting a device or removing part of your body is unnerving, to say the least. However, people can set aside their natural fear of such procedures because they trust the professionals providing them with care.

Most surgeries have minimal negative consequences for patients. Years of experience and education ensure that doctors can complete basic procedures with few issues. Still, even surgeons sometimes make mistakes.

In fact, surgeons frequently commit medical mistakes that constitute never events. They are serious enough that professionals in the industry agree these mistakes should never occur in modern operating rooms. How frequently do doctors make these serious medical mistakes?

A 20-year study provides frightening answers

Surgeons, like most other people, aren’t always eager to admit their mistakes after a procedure goes wrong. However, researchers can still glean important insights into the frequency of surgical mistakes by looking at the number of fatalities and revision procedures that occur. Between 1990 and 2010, roughly 10,000 never events occurred.

Three specific surgical mistakes were among the most frequent. Researchers found that surgeons leave behind foreign objects in a patient’s incision roughly 39 times each week somewhere in the United States. Another 20 patients will have a surgeon perform the wrong procedure on them. Another 20 procedures will go wrong because the doctor operates on the wrong part of the body.

In other words, dozens of patients each week experience medical mistakes so devastating that they may never fully recover. In a portion of these scenarios, the patient affected will die.

How do you fight back after a never event?

Discovering that a surgeon made a mistake while operating is quite frightening. Often this information comes with a request to quickly undergo a revision procedure and sign hospital paperwork. Patients trying to understand what just happened may unintentionally waive their right to hold the surgeon or facility accountable by signing the paperwork presented prior to the revision procedure.

As soon as your family believes that a surgical mistake occurred, you may need outside help to avoid the pressure and manipulation often used to keep such situations quiet. Both individual surgeons and hospital facilities typically carry malpractice insurance that can compensate those affected by surgical mistakes. In more severe cases, medical malpractice claims may require lawsuits to fully resolve the underlying issue.

Understanding how frequently surgical errors and other kinds of medical malpractice occur may inspire you to take action after suffering the impact of a medical mistake.