No one wants to hear they need surgery. Whether a routine procedure or something more serious, undergoing surgery exposes the patient to any number of risks and complications. While doctors, anesthesiologists, and surgical support staff do their part to warn patients and their families of common after effects and potential problems, there’s another risk that most people aren’t aware of: increasingly often, surgical errors happen that result in serious and potentially fatal injuries. Victims of mistakes on the part of surgeons or hospital staff are often shocked to as to how these errors can take place, and how often they occur.
Common Surgical Errors
Approximately 4,000 people in the United States are victims of surgical errors each year. Surgical errors vary from minor mistakes with no consequences, of which the patient is often not even aware, to catastrophic events leaving the patient maimed or incapacitated for life. Either way, the medical industry has a term for these errors: never events, so-named because these mistakes are events that never should have happened in a hospital setting. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which tracks common surgical errors and never events. These events can be classified as falling under one of the following categories:
- Wrong site errors: These mistakes happen as the result of performing the correct surgery, but on the wrong location. For example, your left foot requires surgery, but your right foot is mistakenly operated on instead. Or maybe you need a procedure done on your back, but the doctor focuses on the wrong vertebrae.
- Wrong procedure errors: These errors occur when the doctor or surgeon performs a different procedure than what you actually need. For example, completely removing an organ or body part when a biopsy was all that was needed.
- Wrong patient errors: This happens when one patient gets a procedure that was planned for another patient.
The American Medical Association reports that serious injuries due to surgical errors occur about 80 times a week, and have resulted in over a billion dollars in liability payouts in the last 20 years.
Avoiding Surgery Mistakes
According to recent studies of Medicare patients, 1 in 7 hospital patients were harmed in some way during their hospital stay. In order to protect yourself as a patient, follow these safety tips before getting any type of surgery done:
- Choose your hospital carefully. Ask your doctor, family, and friends about their prior experiences with the facility.
- Check your surgeon’s experience. Confirm that they are board certified and have experience performing the procedure.
- Bring your own medications. Letting the staff see what you’re taking and dosage amounts can help to reduce accidental overdoses or mistakes in prescribing medicines.
- Don’t go alone. Have family or a friend accompany you so you’ll have someone to speak out on your behalf in the event you’re unable to do so.
- Avoid Fridays, weekends, and holidays if possible. Hospital staff are likely to be tired and preoccupied, which will affect their concentration and focus, thus affecting the quality of care they are providing you.
Contact Our Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Unfortunately, surgical errors occur with alarming frequency, causing serious and potentially disabling injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to errors by your doctor or hospital staff, contact our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys. At Hogan Frick, with offices in Orlando, Gainesville, Ocala, Kissimmee, and Lakeland, we fight for your rights and help victims of surgical errors recover damages due to medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today for a free case review.