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Common types of surgical errors

Surgical errors number among the more common types of medical malpractice. Even highly qualified, reputable health care providers can end up making an error that can seriously affect a patient's health.

Despite the implementation of various procedures designed to safeguard against error, surgical mistakes continue to happen. It is important to know that if this type of malpractice affects you, the law does provide you with options to gain compensation for the ensuing physical and financial costs.

Common surgical errors

Frequent types of errors include operating on the wrong site, insufficient anesthesia, leaving an instrument inside the patient or performing a procedure on the wrong patient.

The role of communication

As you can surmise, some of these mistakes can result from poor communication. Before the procedure, the surgeon should speak with you and thoroughly review your record. You should have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns, especially in a non-emergency situation.

Higher risk for female patients

Women are especially at risk of suffering from providers who do not establish communication and fail to listen to patients. There is a general tendency among many providers to minimize a woman's complaint and to assume she is exaggerating her discomfort or that her symptoms are all in her head. In many cases, this can lead to misdiagnosis, delayed treatment and failure to provide appropriate pain management.

Ways to reduce errors

Increasingly, hospitals have implemented various protocols to cut down the likelihood of error, such as scheduled instrument counts to reduce the risk of leaving behind instruments. Time-outs before the surgery and standardized electronic health record use can help reduce incidents of wrong surgery, wrong patient or wrong site.

Why mistakes may occur despite safety protocols

Failing to implement commonly known and available safeguards may be one type of negligence that a hospital could bear responsibilitiy for. In other cases, even when with safeguards in place, mistakes can happen if someone neglects to comply with procedure properly. For example, a mistake in entering information into a medical record, a failure to check the information or a careless reading of the record could all result in a surgical error and serious consequences to the patient.

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