Mistakes made during surgery are often rather shocking and astounding to read about, so they generate a lot of press. Take, for instance, the man whose new kidney was put on the wrong side of his body or the woman who discovered that a surgical sponge had been left inside her body during a surgery four years before.
These are incredible, avoidable mistakes. So why do they keep happening?
One reason, researchers have found, is that multiple errors, often by more than one person, tend to lead to these big mistakes.In fact, one study found that each serious surgical mistake only happened after an average of nine errors were made.
Examples of issues included mental mistakes, such as overconfidence on the part of a surgeon. Some surgeons didn't remember the big picture while focusing only on the small details. In some cases, doctors simply got details mixed up -- doing the wrong procedure on the wrong patient, looking at the wrong test results, or using the wrong medications when two different ones had similar names, for instance.
Researchers concluded that surgeons and their teams were simply overloaded with information. The procedures themselves can be complicated, they have to think about the medical histories of the patients, which can also be complex, technology can be cutting-edge and helpful, but also complicated.
All of this works together to create simple mental mistakes. It sounds incredible to forget a sponge in a patient, but medical professionals have so much to think about that sometimes the simple things are overlooked.
Even so, you expect excellent medical care when going in for surgery. If you don't get it, you must know what rights you have to compensation, as surgical mistakes can be costly, painful, and life-changing.
Source: Pacific Standard, "Why Surgeons Make Catastrophic Mistakes," Francie Diep, accessed Jan. 03, 2017