As a patient who needs to undergo a surgery, you know that there is always a risk of something going wrong. While some complications are not the fault of a doctor or staff, the fact is that others are a direct result of human error. Surgical errors leave patients in pain, and they can even result in death. Sometimes patients need second surgeries to correct errors, too. What can you do to help prevent this from happening to you? Here are three tips.
1. Verify your information
Before you ever have a surgery, make sure you understand what’s supposed to happen. Discuss with your surgeon where the surgical site is, so that you can identify it on the day of surgery. Verify all the medications you’re on and how long you need to stop them before the surgery if they are not to be taken. Your medical provider should speak to you about the risk of certain complications.
Feel free to ask the surgeon about the steps in place to prevent wrong-patient surgeries, wrong-side surgeries and wrong-part/wrong-level surgeries. He or she should know the current recommendations and process for avoiding these dangerous errors.
2. Speak up if there is something wrong
Whether you believe a nurse mispronounced your name or find that your birthdate is wrong on your wristband on the day of surgery, it’s time to speak up. Never let a seemingly simple error go unnoticed. What you believe is a slip of the tongue may actually be a nurse reading another patient’s chart.
Whenever you speak to a nurse or doctor, he or she should verify your name, birthdate and the operation you’re going to have. You may also ask them to verify the time of the surgery and your allergies. Make sure your allergies are listed on your wristband. This is vital information for all members of the surgical team.
3. Do your research
Before you plan the surgery, take the time to get to know your medical team. If there is someone on the team you are uncomfortable with, talk to your surgeon or the hospital about that concern. You are the patient, and you have the right to choose the doctor and staff that works with you. If you find that someone on the team has faced malpractice lawsuits in the past for major errors, it may be best to ask for a replacement.
These are just a few tips to help you avoid medical errors when you go into surgery. If you’re still impacted by a medical mistake, you have a right to pursue a lawsuit .