When you enter the hospital to undergo a procedure, whether routine or specialized, you expect your surgeon to be competent, attentive and alert.
However, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), mistakes in the operating room are common, with at least 4,000 surgical errors occurring in the United States every year.
Common causes of surgical errors
Not all surgical mistakes constitute medical malpractice. Some of the most common reasons surgery patients do not receive adequate care include the following:
- A lack of training, education or supervision
- Communication gaps among hospital staff
- Incomplete assessments or missing medical information
- Failed adherence to regulations and protocols
- Distraction and human error
Most errors occur either before or after the procedure, but these blunders can still lead to serious injuries or even patient fatalities.
Protocols to ensure patient safety
Because of the immense risk involved in performing surgery, healthcare organizations implement strict protocols surgical teams and staff must follow. Firstly, multiple members of the medical staff must confirm the patient’s identity during and beyond intake. Additionally, the surgeon, anesthesiologist and nurse must review the type of procedure, surgical site and patient consent before performing any procedure. After surgery, the team must verify the body is clear of all surgical tools and record the patient’s clinical status.
Events that should never occur in the operating room
Diligent adherence to protocol prevents inexcusable and life-threatening events including wrong-patient, wrong-procedure and wrong-site surgery.
If you sustain pain, injury or infection post-surgery, understanding the context of your case can help determine if you are a victim of medical malpractice.