Whether a patient is going under the knife for a routine procedure or for an emergency operation, he or she may become the victim of a surgical error. Mistakes that occur in the operating room are just one serious form of medical malpractice, and they occur more often than some people may think. According to Medical News Today, researchers from John Hopkins University found that more than 4,000 surgical mistakes happen every year in Montana and throughout the U.S. Many believe, however, that this number is low because a number of surgical errors and other types of medical negligence go undetected and/or unreported.
One of the ways that surgical mistakes can take place in the operating room is when there is a miscommunication before or during a procedure. For example, a surgeon may operate on the wrong body part if he or she fails to verify the information with the patient prior to entering the OR. In some cases, the chaotic atmosphere of the operating room can add to the risk of medical malpractice as well, according to Live Science. The OR staff may leave a surgical instrument inside the patient once the procedure is complete, or perform the wrong surgery on the wrong patient altogether.
While some surgical mistakes are minor and do not effect patients’ overall health, other errors can have long-lasting consequences, as reported by American Medical News. Approximately one-third of surgical mistakes lead to permanent injuries. Patients may have to undergo further surgical procedures, incur additional medical expenses and experience emotional trauma as a result of operating room errors.