It’s a scenario that is all too familiar for many patients: you go in for surgery, thinking everything will go according to plan, only to find out later that something went wrong. Unfortunately, surgical errors are far more common than most people realize.
In fact, approximately 4,000 surgical errors happen in the United States each year. There are many types of surgical errors which can occur for various reasons.
The 4 main types of errors
There are four common problems associated with surgical errors that aren’t particularly unique to a specific procedure. These include:
- Wrong-site surgery is perhaps the most common type of error and occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part.
- Wrong procedure errors are less common but can happen when a surgeon performs the incorrect procedure entirely.
- Wrong patient errors are rare but can have devastating consequences if they occur.
- Retained foreign bodies happen when a surgeon leaves a piece of equipment or material inside the patient’s body.
These mistakes can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from a simple human error to complacency. In some cases, surgeons may misjudge the time required for a procedure, leading to fatigue and decreased dexterity. In other cases, surgeons may become too comfortable with a particular procedure and fail to double-check their work. Additionally, communication errors between surgeons and operating room staff can lead to mix-ups in identity or surgical sites.
Surgical errors may result in additional pain and suffering, unnecessary invasive procedures, extra recovery time, disability, or in some cases, death. If a surgical error has impacted you or a loved one, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and receive compensation.