A New York surgeon who makes a mistake is supposed to inform the patient of that error. However, a survey published in JAMA Surgery found that some surgeons only follow some national guidelines related to disclosing such an error. The survey involved more than 60 surgeons who worked at various VA medical centers. Of the eight national guidelines for error disclosure after a surgery, most who participated in surgery said that they followed five of them.
In most cases, surgeons disclosed the error, explained to the patient or family why it happened and expressed remorse that it occurred. Most also showed concern for the patient’s health and offered to help fix any issues that may occur as a result of the mistake. However, only 55 percent of those surveyed said that they apologized or talked about whether there was anything that could have prevented the error.
Some surgeons may have issues talking about mistakes in the operating room because acknowledging an error may make them less confident in their abilities going forward. However, they generally acknowledge that patients have the right to know when they occur. This is in contrast to previous eras in which doctors may have believed that secrecy was the best policy when a mistake occurred.
Those who are injured in a surgical procedure or otherwise harmed by a surgeon may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other damages. This may be true if the error occurred because of a negligent action taken by the surgeon or others who may have taken part in the procedure. For instance, if something was left in the patient after the surgery, that may be negligence and rise to the level of medical malpractice.