Surgery is inherently invasive. It involves a medical professional cutting into the human body to repair damaged tissue, remove something that shouldn’t be there or implant medical devices. Surgical procedures can last for hours and may require the use of specialized skills and procedures.
Surgeons undergo years of rigorous training and are also subject to extensive oversight by their employers. They also frequently have support professionals they are monitoring the work that they perform during every operation. They have to follow very strict rules regarding how they perform their work and the sanitation practices they employ.
With all of those systems in place, patients often assume that a favorable outcome is a given. However, poor outcomes are still quite common, and there are thousands of cases of catastrophic surgical mistakes or never events every year. How common are preventable surgical errors in the United States?
Dozens of surgical errors happen weekly
According to research into the frequency of certain surgical errors, roughly 4,000 major never events occur in the United States every year. These surgical mistakes are egregious and preventable.
The most commonly-reported never events include surgeons performing the wrong procedure on a patient, surgeons operating on the wrong part of the body and surgeons leaving items behind after closing up someone’s incision. All of these categories of mistakes tend to lead to catastrophic medical consequences for the patient involved.
Taking action after a surgical error
Coming out of anesthesia to have a doctor inform you shortly thereafter that you will have to undergo a revision procedure is incredibly stressful. So is the tragic discovery that a loved one died because a surgeon did something foolish, like leaving a sponge behind while performing a very standard and theoretically low-risk surgical procedure.
Surgeons and the facilities that employ them carry medical malpractice insurance for exactly this kind of scenario. You can potentially file an insurance claim to recoup your losses. Occasionally, medical malpractice claims will end up going to civil court. When a doctor like a surgeon deviates from best practices and makes some mistake with lasting negative consequences for a patient, malpractice claims are the surest path to justice.
Fighting back against medical malpractice can compensate those affected and create consequences for those responsible.