Surgical errors: The surprising frequency of never events

Surgical errors, or ‘never events’ occur more frequently than some people think and may have long-lasting effects.

Surgeons and nurses are some of the most trusted professions in Ohio and across America. Countless people put their lives in the hands of these medical experts everyday as they enter the operating room for both minor and major procedures. Despite the keen accuracy of surgical professionals, however, they are humans and humans make mistakes. When surgeons make mistakes, it can cause severe injuries and even death.

The facts

Surgical mistakes are often referred to as 'never events' due to the fact that they are preventable and should never occur in the operating room. Still 'never events' happen at least 4,000 times every year throughout the U.S., according to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University. This equates to nearly 80 surgical errors each week. These numbers are thought to be even higher, as some surgical mistakes go undetected and/or unreported.

Retained surgical items

One of the most common types of surgical errors involves retained surgical items within a patient's operating site. Surgical sponges are frequently used in procedures to soak up excess bodily fluids around the surgical site. As the sponges become soaked with blood, however, they tend to blend into the organs and may get left behind when the surgeon stitches up the patients' incision. Once left inside, sponges can adhere to bodily organs and cause major infections, which can spread throughout the body.

Institutions have implemented several programs to minimize the risk of retained surgical items. Surgical technicians perform a count before the procedure, and then periodically throughout the procedure to ensure nothing has been left inside the patient. Yet, these counts are not always accurate and can lead to a mistake.

Other types of errors

Surgical errors can also occur when surgeons perform the wrong procedure on the wrong patient or operate on the wrong body part. For example, the surgeon may perform a knee replacement on the right knee instead of the left. Not only does this require the patient to go through another painful procedure, but it leads to additional expenses and recovery time as well. The patient is exposed to the risk of infection, and may not fully recover from the mistaken procedure.

Upholding your rights

If you are the victim of medical negligence, you may want to contact an attorney in Ohio regarding your legal rights. You may be eligible for compensation for your pain, suffering, medical expenses and lost wages from work. Whether the surgeon made an error during your procedure or you another form of medical malpractice has occurred, you deserve to have fair and aggressive representation in court.