All surgeries involve a level of risk and surgical error cases can happen even to the most skilled surgeons. Surgical errors are those that result from a preventable mistake happening during surgery. Even though patients typically sign an informed consent form stating known risks for a specific procedure, these mistakes go beyond the known risks and are unexpected.
The most common cases of surgical malpractice include nerve injury, wrong site surgery, infection, surgical instruments left inside the body and operating on the wrong patient. Surgical mistakes can happen due to a number of things including:
Statistics show that surgical errors are amongst the top most common preventable medical errors leading to malpractice claims. Amongst the claims in the study, general surgery accounted for 15.3% of malpractice claims, 19.1% by neurosurgery, and 18.9% by thoracic-cardiovascular surgery. Additionally, data from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates the following cases and specialties affected are the most common:
There are a number of things that can be implemented in order to reduce the cases of surgery malpractice including, but not limited to:
For patients, being on the operating table can be a stressful and vulnerable position. While surgeons, and other medical practitioners, operate under the “do no harm” oath, there are still inherent risks with surgical procedures and the possibility of malpractice. It is important for surgeons to be prepared by implementing preventive initiatives as well as by being covered in case of a surgical error lawsuit.