No matter the complexity of the surgical procedure, patients trust they will be cared for in a professional manner. Unfortunately, numerous errors can be caused by an incorrect diagnosis, poor communication or mistakes by a highly-trained surgical staff.
While there are nearly countless errors or mistakes that can negatively impact a surgical procedure, WebMD highlights three specific categories.
- Foreign objects left behind: While the entertainment media tend to exaggerate this situation to comedic effect a surgical staff will not leave a watch or cell phone behind during a procedure. However, it is not uncommon for surgical implements such as scalpels, clamps or retractors to be left at the surgical site. Additionally, materials such as sponges, towels or gauze can be forgotten by an inattentive staff.
- Wrong procedure: Whether the error can be traced back to poor planning or poor communication, a patient who is given the wrong procedure can face health complications and numerous post-care difficulties. A classic example of wrong procedure error involves a patient undergoing a surgery intended for a patient with a similar name.
- Wrong site: While it might be easy to diagnose a problem, numerous complications arise in an operating theater. An example of a wrong site procedure can include operating on the wrong level of the spine but can often be traced back to confusing the body’s left side for its right. Mis-identifying and operating on the left ovary or testicle, for example, when the right side was the focus of the surgery. Another dramatic example of wrong site surgery is the amputation of the wrong arm or leg.
Medical negligence can lead to severe complications and deadly conditions. Every aspect of patient care must be handled with care, attention and professionalism. From the initial diagnosis to the surgical team to the post-procedure care, a patient can be further injured by those trying to help. If you or a loved one was injured due to malpractice, it is critical that you seek professional legal guidance.