Everyone makes mistakes at work, but many people do not have the kinds of jobs in which small errors make a big difference. But medicine is not one of those jobs, and every kind of surgical error, even if it does not seem serious, could potentially be significant and costly for the patient involved.
Surgical errors, on the whole, should never take place. While there might be complications during surgeries, an error is different. Errors are obvious mistakes that surgeons or their teams make during an operation. They can be anything from not stitching a wound correctly to failing to operate on the correct body part.
Surgical errors should never happen, yet they affect thousands of people every year. Avoiding surgical errors should fall on the shoulders of the doctors and nurses who work with patients, but the reality is that patients often have to take their safety into their own hands.
Surgical errors should not take place, but they sometimes do as a result of a surgeon or other medical provider's errors. For example, a nurse who is counting sponges as they're removed from a surgical site might miscount, allowing one to be left behind, or a surgeon might cut too deeply, injuring an organ that was not supposed to be punctured.
Do you know anyone who enjoys being in hospitals? Unless you know a clinician who loves her or his job, you probably do not. That is usually because times spent in hospitals are among the most stressful that patients and their families can experience. Apparently, the stress can get to the people who work there as well.
There's nothing scarier than the potential for a surgeon to operate on the wrong body part. For example, if you need a corrective surgery on your right eye, going through surgery on the left could be extremely damaging.
Surgical errors are very rare; in fact, an important study on the subject showed that only one in around 112,000 surgical procedures include an error for which a physician or health care organization may be liable. But they can have disastrous consequences when they happen, leading to permanent changes in a patient's life.
Health problems after long or invasive surgery or medical treatments are often par for the course. They are difficult enough to deal with in the best circumstances, but it is especially hard when the pain or trouble is caused by the people or organizations we trust to take care of us.
There are very few people who enjoy being in hospitals, even though many good things happen in health care facilities. Most American lives begin in a hospital, and most major traumas and illnesses are treated in one. Although hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are the largest threat to health in most emergency rooms, the possibility of a surgeon's error is high enough to be significant.
Surgical errors take place by the thousands every year, and patients and their families are left to deal with the consequences. Doctors may not want to admit to mistakes for fear of facing medical malpractice lawsuits, and they may never apologize to patients.