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A quick guide to surgical errors

Few medical mistakes are as scary as the ones that involve surgery. Surgical errors are devastating events that one would hope would never occur. When a doctor makes a mistake during surgery, it is generally a sign there are serious safety issues.

There are plenty of different types of surgical mistakes and the same goes for what causes them. Below are lists of the most common types and causes of surgery mishaps.

Categories of surgical errors

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, potential mistakes that may occur during a surgical procedure include:

  • Administering too much or not enough anesthesia
  • Operating on the wrong side or body part
  • Leaving a surgical tool in the body cavity
  • Injuring the patient during surgery
  • Failing to prevent infections or bleeding after surgery
  • Choosing the wrong method of surgery  

In the most extreme cases, a surgeon may even operate on the wrong patient.

Causes of surgery mistakes

Each surgery is unique with a number of variables, so there are a lot of potential mistakes. However, here are some of the most frequent reasons that surgical mistakes happen:

  • The surgeon lacks the knowledge or skills necessary to complete the operation successfully
  • The surgeon does not prepare for the surgery and fails to resolve a complication that occurs
  • The surgeon communicates poorly with the patient, nurse or assistant
  • The surgeon attempts to take shortcuts during surgery
  • The surgeon gets fatigue from working a long shift
  • The surgeon uses drugs or alcohol to cope with stress

Any of these things are likely to cause mistakes to happen. A negligent surgeon is a dangerous surgeon. Surgical errors may lead to severe injuries and even death.

Someone who undergoes surgery and is the victim of a mistake should consider holding the doctor legally accountable. An attorney may help determine whether there is enough evidence to bring a medical malpractice case.

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