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Will your surgeon let you know if mistakes are made?

You go in for surgery, and your doctor makes a mistake during the procedure. You're unconscious for it, so you have no idea. You're also not a medical professional, so you may not know even if you were awake.

Will your surgeon tell you? Or will that mistake just get swept under the rug?

Of course, surgeons are supposed to let you know, and they even have eight different steps they should follow. A recent poll, however, showed that they will skip some of these steps. The five they tend to follow most of the time -- but not all -- include:

  • Telling you why the mistake occurred
  • Acting regretful at the time
  • Telling you about it within the next 24 hours
  • Demonstrating concern for your health
  • Doing anything possible to rectify the mistake and/or provide treatment for the new problems that it caused

This is a good start, but nearly half of all surgeons said that they usually did not apologize for those mistakes, and the same amount claimed they did not talk with the patient or the family members about whether they could have prevented that error in the first place. Just 55 percent said they would bring up these topics.

This could leave you, as a patient, feeling very confused. You may not understand if the doctor really made a mistake or if this was an expected potential outcome. Could that make it harder for you to identify medical malpractice and seek proper financial compensation? You need to know exactly where you stand after surgical errors.

Source: CBS News, "Would a surgeon tell you if something went wrong during your operation?," Mary Brophy Marcus, accessed June 08, 2018

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