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How often do surgical errors really take place?

Surgical errors can change your life forever. You entrust a doctor with your health and perhaps your life. When that doctor is negligent or even reckless, not giving you the standard of care you deserve, the ramifications can be enormous.

Before surgery, you may find yourself wondering how often these types of cases really take place. It is important to look at two crucial statistics. To find them, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the RAND Corporation and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs looked at 138 papers that examined surgical mistakes.

One key finding was that in one out of every 7,600 procedures, surgeons left a foreign object in the patient's body. Surgical sponges got left behind more than anything else, but surgical teams use dozens of instruments. One simple counting error could mean any of them get left behind.

Another finding from the study was that one out of every 100,000 procedures involved a wrong-site surgery. This is when surgeons mistakenly operate on the incorrect body part. For instance, instead of amputating an injured left leg, they may amputate a healthy right leg. Researchers did note that "individual estimates vary widely. However, it is still concerning to see this nightmare scenario show up so often.

Have you suffered because of a surgical mistake? Perhaps wrong-site surgery left you with permanent complications. Maybe a foreign object getting left behind meant you needed a second surgery. If so, you need to know what legal rights you have to seek compensation if you suffered because you didn't get the medical care you deserve.

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