Surgery mistakes can be dangerous
Surgical procedures are dangerous enough without health care professionals making mistakes. However, errors do happen, which can lead to serious injury - or worse, death. To help keep professional liability risk in check, surgeons and surgical assistants should avoid the following common missteps:
1. Objects left in the body
One of the last things that is probably on a patient's mind when getting surgery is the risk of having a tool left in their body. But, this is more common that people would think, so it actually could be a concern. For example, scalpels, pads, gauze and clamps have all been left in bodies, which can lead to extreme pain and infections. To avoid such an incident, surgeons and assistants should have a clear materials checklist that needs to be completed before ending surgery.
2. Wrong patient surgery
Before surgeons do anything, they need to be sure that they are with the right patient. This should be easy to avoid, but it does happen, and if someone gets the wrong surgery, their life could be in jeopardy. There are a few things that can lead to this misstep:
- Lack of preoperative verification
- Miscommunication between health care professionals
- Poor hospital protocol
Perhaps the best way to prevent wrong patient surgery is to double, and triple check before getting underway. Cross checking patient IDs with medical records to ensure the right person is in the operating room.
3. Wrong side surgery
Getting the right patient into the operating room isn't the only step that needs to be taken to avoid surgical errors. Without proper preparation, surgeons could end up completing wrong side surgery. For example, a patient could have the wrong kidney removed, or wrong finger amputated. This type of misstep should be easily avoidable, as surgeons can have their assistants mark the side that is to be operated on. Of course, this requires that the assistant has the necessary information, so it is important to have all of this written down in the patient's medical record.
4. Anesthesia errors
During most surgeries, patients need to be put under anesthesia. Surgeons need to be extremely careful when completing this process, as one simple mistake could lead to serious injury. For instance, if too much is administered, a patient could get too little oxygen, which may result in permanent brain damage or death. If too little is provided, the patient could wake up during a procedure, and lead to serious pain.
5. Nerve damage
Even successful surgeries can come with injury. If not careful, health care professionals could cause nerve damage in patients. A simple slip of a scalpel that isn't even noticed at the time could lead to a damaged nerve, which could cause future infection, pain and disability. For this reason, surgeons need to be extremely careful to not make any missteps when operating.
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