Even if you trust your surgeon, going under the knife for a procedure is a bit frightening. Mistakes do happen in operating rooms, ranging from issues with sanitation that cause infections to adverse reactions to anesthesia. Surgeries can save people’s lives, but they can also cause lasting damage when improperly performed.
Little mistakes during the procedure could have a drastic impact on how long it takes to recover and how successful the treatment ultimately is. For a tiny percentage of patients, the surgery will involve never events that drastically alter the outcome of their care.
Never events are medical mistakes so egregious and dangerous that regulatory and medical professionals agree they should never occur. The government recognizes numerous never events that can negatively affect patients. Three of the most common are also three of the most frightening mistakes a doctor could make during a surgery.
Wrong-site or wrong-side surgery
Many modern hospitals have surgeons or the patients themselves draw on their bodies with a permanent marker so that there won’t be mistakes during the operation. Specifically, the goal is to prevent a surgeon from operating on the wrong body part or the wrong side of the body. These mistakes occur more frequently than you might imagine and can have devastating consequences for someone’s health.
Wrong procedure or wrong patient mistakes
When a doctor has three surgeries on the docket for the day, they might make a mistake about which surgery they perform on which patient. When a doctor performs a procedure on the wrong patient or performed the wrong procedure altogether, the patient will suffer negative consequences from the unnecessary treatment and will likely still require the surgery they should have received in the first place.
Tools and other items left behind
When the surgeon closes up the incision they made, they need to first account for all the tools in the operating room, ranging from clamps and scalpels to pieces of gauze. If the surgeon completes the operation and leaves something inside the incision, that can affect the future care for the patient.
They are at extreme risk of infection and could even suffer traumatic injuries from rigid or sharp items left behind in their bodies. Such mistakes almost always require revision procedures, which can drastically extend someone’s recovery time and increase the chances of an adverse medical reaction.
Learning about the most serious surgical errors, like never events, can make you a better advocate for yourself and your family members after a poor surgical outcome that seems like medical malpractice.