Although surgical mistakes are fairly rare, statistics show that completely preventable mistakes continue throughout the United States. For example, one out of 100,000 surgeries involves a wrong site surgical error, where the surgeon operates on the incorrect body part or the wrong area of a patient's body. Sometimes, these errors involve surgeries on the wrong person. Even more distressing is the fact that one out of 10,000 surgeries involve a doctor forgetting something inside the patient's body, like a surgical tool or a medical sponge.
Why are these errors happening?
A lot of these errors are blamed on poor communication among doctors, surgeons and medical staff. Nevertheless, because these issues often boil down to simple human mistakes and/or forgetfulness relating to communicating vital information, experts are not sure how to prevent them from happening.
Communication errors include: missing information from patient records that operating-room staff should have had available during surgery; surgical team members failing to voice their concerns; surgeons ignoring their hunches and suspicions; general miscommunications among staff members; and more.
Certain kinds of surgeries may be more prone to error
In terms of pinpointing the "why" and the "how" of these mistakes, researchers have found that certain kinds of surgeries tend to be more prone to errors. For example, when looking at eye doctor claims, researchers found that an average of 0.5 out of 10,000 procedures result in a wrong-site error. Meanwhile, when it comes to performing surgeries to correct "lazy eye" four wrong-site errors happen out of every 10,000 surgeries.
Injured patients can pursue claims for financial damages
The fact that surgical errors are considered to be "rare" is certainly no consolation for those patients who have been mortally harmed by these incidents. The fact that most of these surgical errors never should have happened in the first place is even more troubling to consider. All that said, injured patients can rest assured that they will have the right to seek financial claims in court. Although no amount of litigation, and no amount of financial compensation, will make one's injuries disappear, a successfully navigated medical malpractice suit can be helpful to patients in getting money to pay for medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering and more.