You expect competence from your surgeon and his or her operating room team. You also expect that your surgeon will tell you if the worst happens and something goes wrong before, during or after your surgery. Unfortunately, however, you cannot count on this.
As reported by CBS News, less than two-thirds of the nation’s surgeons routinely divulge the following to their affected patients:
- An error occurred
- Its nature
- How and why it occurred
- How badly it makes him or her feel
- His or her level of concern about the error’s possible negative consequences to the patient
- How he or she plans to handle these consequences if and when they occur
Why surgeons do not divulge errors
The fact that large numbers of surgeons, possibly including your own, do not tell patients about operating room errors does not mean that they are inherently bad people. More often than not, the hospital for which they work has a policy against giving such information to patients. Why? They fear a possible lawsuit.
Patient due diligence
If you suspect that an error occurred before, during or after your surgery, do not hesitate to voice your suspicions and your reasons therefor to both your surgeon and the hospital’s patient advocate. Ask plenty of detailed questions and, if at all possible, have a family member or one of your friends in the room with you to hear the answers and serve as your witness thereto.
Remember, anesthesia errors can and do occur both prior to and during surgery. Surgeons often do leave foreign objects, such as clamps and/or sponges, inside patients. Nurses often fail to adequately monitor patients before and after surgery. Any of these errors can negatively impact your life for weeks, months or even years to come.