In this series we show you the importance of being your own advocate when it comes to your health and the many ways you can prevent common medical errors.

Why should you take charge?

Medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. The American Association for Justice estimates that 440,000 errors resulting in death occur each year. We’ve learned a thing or two after handling medical malpractice cases for more than 30 years. We’ve learned that while medicine is complex, errors often can be prevented in simple, common sense ways. When you take charge of your own medical information you can actually decrease the odds it will happen to you.

Advocacy Series Highlight: Surgery Mix-ups

For many people about to undergo surgery, their biggest fears are things like not surviving the procedure and post op complications. Medical negligence, more specifically surgical errors, are seldom worried about or even considered. And while we would all like one less thing to worry about before surgery, surgical errors, continue to be a real and serious problem despite medical advancements.

Some of the most unbelievable surgical errors are called surgery mix-ups. Surgery mix-ups occur when doctors perform wrong-site or wrong-patient procedures. These mistakes are rather straightforward. Due to human error and lack of communication, the doctors mistakenly operate on the incorrect patient or in the incorrect region. For example, let’s say you were scheduled to undergo a left knee replacement. Wrong-site surgery would take place if the doctor wrongfully performed the surgery on your right knee. Wrong-patient surgery would be if the doctor performed a left knee replacement on someone else thinking the individual was you.

Unfortunately, clerical errors like mixing up patients’ charts and bringing the wrong patient into an operating room are still seen today. Some sources estimate that these mix-ups happen up to 50 times a week in the U.S.. The largest contributing factor to surgical mix-ups is lack of communication. The hospital staff across the pre-op and surgical departments fail to properly check with the patient and each other to ensure  the patient and procedure information is correct. While there are protocols in place to prevent surgery mix-ups, additional communication can help to reduce your risk. Making sure hospital staff have your correct personal information, especially the specific procedure you are having, can prevent an error. You should be asked to verify some basic information at multiple points in the pre-op process, and you may even be asked to allow staff to mark the operative area as an added safeguard.

These surgical errors are unacceptable and completely preventable. If you are the victim of a surgery mix-up, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney. For a free consultation with our team at Scartelli Olszewski, call or message us today.

 

Sources:

https://www.jointcommission.org/-/media/deprecated-unorganized/imported-assets/jcr/assets/chassin_and_loeb_0913_finalpdf.pdf?db=web&hash=77C2B6F728F977D2F19C195DF06E5D17

https://www.jointcommission.org/-/media/enterprise/tjc/imported-resource-assets/documents/up_poster1pdf.pdf?db=web&hash=D1EEC9972879766126FA3159B6A2F4A4

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-can-we-do-to-make-no-mix-ups-during-surgery#1