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Surgical errors still occur in spite of preventive protocol

Jun 16, 2015 | Surgical Errors

New York patients facing surgery might deal with worries about their outcomes, especially in light of the fact that errors are possible. Although Universal Protocol was introduced just over a decade ago in an effort to reduce the occurrence of serious errors, there are still a significant number of never events, which are surgical errors that are considered to be preventable. A recent study grouped them into three primary categories, including surgical fires, leaving a foreign object in a patient and operating on the wrong site.

Wrong-site incidents are reported to occur in approximately one of every 100,000 procedures. These can include operating on the wrong side, the wrong body part or the wrong person. In comparison, foreign objects are left in patients once for every 10,000 procedures. It is encouraging that these incidents are infrequent. However, the fact that they still occur is cause for concern and warrants further study. With limited events to study, however, identification of the causes can be difficult. Percentages of incidents for certain body parts, for example, may be limited, while preventable incidents during specific types of procedures on those body parts may be more common.

Communication among surgical staff members is cited as a frequent issue affecting never events. A team member’s voicing of concerns over a potential problem may be ignored. An individual may hesitate in raising a concern. Improved tracking of both close calls and actual surgical mistakes may be important for identifying and resolving factors that serve as catalysts for such errors.

A patient who has been affected by a surgeon’s error may end up with a worsened condition that requires extensive further medical treatment. An attorney may be able to determine if such a mistake constitutes a failure to observe the appropriate standard of care and, if such is the case, seek compensation for the injured patient’s damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit.