When we undergo a surgical procedure, we are literally putting our lives in the hands of our surgeons. While certain procedures are riskier than others, the risk of a surgical error is always present. Surgical errors are almost always preventable and typically caused by human error. In some instances, surgical mistakes can have catastrophic and fatal consequences.
Doctors in Maryland, and all over the country, have the responsibility to care for patients. When this doesn’t happen, Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz’s Baltimore surgical errors lawyers are prepared to hold negligent medical professionals and hospitals accountable for their wrongdoings. There is never an excuse for medical malpractice.
Reasons for Surgical Errors
Research at John Hopkins estimates that over 250,000 deaths every year are the result of surgical errors. That makes surgical errors one of the leading medical malpractice issues. Because of how common they are, it’s important to understand why they happen.
- Disregarding Protocol. Disregarding protocol may include taking shortcuts in surgery, neglecting to sanitize the operating room and surgical tools properly, or planning insufficiently. These errors can lead to infection, wrongfully performed procedures, and malfunctioning medical equipment.
- Poor Communication. A number of critical mistakes can occur when miscommunicating or failing to communicate happens. Mishearing directions, illegible handwriting, or insufficient explanations are common causes of surgical errors.
- Fatigue. While many hospitals have mandatory work limitations, surgeons often work incredibly long hours. According to the Patient Safety Network, fatigue negatively impacts the following areas: continuity of care, communication with patients, and the overall quality of the care being provided.
- Drugs or Alcohol. In conjunction with fatigue, doctors may try to stay awake with certain drugs. They may also try to cope with the stress of their job with alcohol. Being under the influence of any substance while operating is incredibly reckless and endangers the life of the patient.
- Incompetence. In some instances, a surgeon may be inexperienced with a certain procedure. Inadequate skills and training are incredibly dangerous in the operating room. This is often both the fault of the surgeon and hospital administration.
Common Surgical Errors
While you may think surgical errors are more likely to happen with complex surgeries, this is not the case. Surgical errors can happen with any surgery. Here you’ll find a list of some of the most common surgical errors.
A patient undergoes a surgical procedure meant for someone else.
As discussed above, improper communication can have serious consequences. One of those consequences can occur if a patient receives the wrong procedure. This can happen if medical charts are mixed up or the preoperative verification is skipped. This is especially dangerous when organ transplants are involved.
The surgery is performed on the wrong side of a patient’s body.
Miscommunication can cause other severe surgical errors. If a patient isn’t properly marked before surgery, they may undergo a procedure on the wrong side of their body.
The anesthesia dosage is not calculated correctly.
Deadly mistakes happen when anesthesia isn’t properly dosed. There’s a chance a patient may wake up during surgery if not given enough anesthesia. If they’re given too much, they may suffer permanent brain damage.
Foreign objects are left in a patient’s body.
Surgeries often require a variety of medical tools and equipment. If a surgeon or surgical team member is careless, foreign objects like clamps, gauze, or even scalpels can be left inside a patient’s body. Severe infection and additional surgeries are often needed when this happens.
A surgeon inflicts nerve damage on a patient.
A surgeon is trusted to have steady hands and excellent vision. In the event of even just a small tremor, serious nerve injuries can occur.
Consequences of Surgical Errors
Surgical error consequences do not begin and end in the operating room. Victims of such mistakes often need more extensive medical care then what they were originally told. They may need to undergo additional surgeries and medical procedures, and often experience significantly longer recovery times.
Extended hospital stays can mean more time away from loved ones, more time off work, and addition and unexpected medical expenses. Patients may also experience temporary or permanent injuries or even death.
Our Baltimore Surgical Error Attorneys Can Help
While surgical errors happen for a variety of reasons, their occurrences are never, under any circumstances, acceptable. Medical malpractice cases are often incredibly complex. Let our team handle the legal burdens of your case, so you can focus on your recovery. We serve clients in Baltimore and the surrounding areas. Contact our office today for a free consultation at 800-895-5333 or 410-234-0100.