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3 serious surgical errors that should never occur

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Medical mistakes can occur under a variety of different circumstances. Primary care physicians seeing a regular patient might rush through a conversation and make a diagnostic mistake. An emergency room doctor might fail to notice contraindications and administer a drug that is dangerous for a patient. Surgeons can also make major mistakes during procedures.

Some surgical mistakes are minor or due to unpredictable and uncontrollable circumstances. Other surgical mistakes are preventable with adherence to the right procedures. Professionals refer to such mistakes as never events because surgeons and their support team can prevent these errors from occurring. The three surgical never events outlined below are among the most common, and the most devastating, for patients.

Retained foreign bodies

Surgery involves using tools to perform a highly invasive medical procedure on a patient. Those tools serve an important purpose, but they can also be a risk factor. If surgeons and those assisting with the procedure misplace clamps or gauze during an operation, they could potentially close up someone’s incision with a foreign object still inside their body. A retained foreign body could cause physical trauma if the object is sharp or rigid. It could also someone at risk of infection or trigger an overwhelming inflammatory response. Retain foreign bodies often require immediate revision procedures to remove the item from the patient.

Wrong-procedure mistakes

Surgeons often have very busy schedules where they perform numerous procedures, one after the next. They could potentially make a mistake by performing the wrong procedure on a patient. Such errors can cause medical devastation and usually leave someone still in need of a second surgery to receive the treatment they originally required.

Wrong-site mistakes

People preparing for surgeries often need to draw on the location of the surgery with a permanent marker. Hospitals have begun requiring that step to prevent doctors from operating on the wrong body part or the wrong side of the body. Wrong-site surgical errors can be particularly damaging, as they might make it impossible for a patient to receive the care that they require or could substantially worsen their situation. Removing the wrong kidney when someone has cancer might mean that they now require dialysis after undergoing a second procedure to remove the kidney that actually has cancer growing in it.

Surgical professionals who follow best practices can eliminate these kinds of egregious mistakes. A failure to follow best practices might lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. Holding a physician or their employer accountable for preventable surgical errors can be a smart reaction to a never event. Medical malpractice lawsuits can compensate those harmed and create consequences for healthcare providers who fail their patients.