Despite massive strides forward in technology and medicine in recent years, mistakes can and do still happen. Electronic medical records are no more successful than paper records at preventing medical errors. Doctors can still miss critical information or do the wrong thing when providing patient care.
Sometimes, these mistakes involve medications or manual therapy. Other times, these mistakes happen during surgery, which can pose a serious risk to the patient involved and are a common form of medical malpractice.
Most people believe that major medical mistakes are rare, but they are actually more common than you think. Research has shown that there are nearly 80 serious surgical mistakes in the United States every single week.
Many of these mistakes involve “never events,” which are errors that should absolutely never happen. Unlike errors related to machinery failures or the surgeon experiencing a medical event while operating, “never events” are preventable with proper care and best practices.
Even with medical staff assisting in the preparation, active surgery and clean up process, surgeons still forget implements, sponges and other foreign objects in patients’ bodies about 39 times every single week. That is a truly horrifying statistic.
Those objects can cause severe infection. When these unwanted surgical souvenirs are surgical implements, like forceps or scalpels, internal damage to the issue is also possible, as well as infection. Most of the time, these mistakes necessitate a second surgery, further endangering the patient involved.
If there’s anything more frightening than a doctor forgetting his or her watch inside your surgical incision, it may be having a doctor perform the completely wrong operation on you. During surgery, you won’t be awake to alert your doctor to that fact. Afterward, you will have to deal with the consequences of an unwanted surgery, as well as the fact that you still need the original procedure.
These mistakes with wrong patient/wrong procedure events happen about 20 times every week. Sometimes, a doctor could confuse one patient for another, resulting in a wrong procedure. Other times, the doctor may simply get confused about what procedure is next on the schedule, resulting in a potentially devastating and life-threatening mistake for the patient.
You might think that electronic records would reduce the risk of a surgeon performing a carpal tunnel operation on the wrong wrist or removing your healthy kidney instead of the one with cancer. Sadly, around 20 people each week come out of surgery only to discover that their operation targeted the wrong part of their body.
In order to reduce this risk, surgeons and support staff often mark body parts before the surgery to have the patient verify the location is correct. However, these mistakes still continue to happen. They may reduce quality of life or even endanger the survival of the patient involved.