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Investigating the Various Causes of Surgical Errors

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

A number of surgical errors take place in operating rooms across the country and put patients at risk for serious injuries.

Millions of people in California and across the country have various types of surgical procedures performed every year. Whether the procedure is considered minor or major, surgeons and other operating room staff are responsible for keeping their patients safe. Patients may feel at ease knowing that they are in the hands of trained and educated surgical professionals who have extensive experience in the OR. Studies show, however, that a number of patients leave the operating room as victims of surgical errors.

The study

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University indicates that surgeons across the U.S. make mistakes in the operating room at least 4,000 times every year. Surgeons perform the wrong procedure on a patient at least 20 times a week, and operate on the wrong body part 20 times per week. Foreign objects are left inside patients' operating sites once a procedure is complete nearly 40 times every week. Researchers believe that these numbers are low, as there are many errors that go unreported or are never discovered in the first place. Surgical errors are completely preventable, and needlessly put innocent patients' lives at risk.

Cause of mistakes in the OR

One of the most common causes of OR mistakes are miscommunications that take place before, during and after surgical procedures. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, surgeons and nurses should meet with each patient prior to the procedure in order to review the details of the surgery. OR staff should discuss what procedure is being performed, which body part is being operated on, whether the patient has any allergies and any other concerns the OR team may have.

The often chaotic environment of the OR contributes to the likelihood of a surgical mistake as well. Universal Protocol suggests that mandatory timeouts are held during each procedure. During this time, OR staff can account for all surgical equipment and ensure nothing has been left inside the patient.

Obtaining legal advice

If you have been victimized by an operating room error or any other type of medical malpractice, you may want to consult with an attorney who understands these types of cases. A California personal injury lawyer understands how difficult it can be to fight a legal case on your own, especially when you are suffering from the repercussions of a medical error. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.