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What common surgical errors can hurt patients?

Every surgery has the potential to be dangerous to the patient. Even an experienced surgeon could make a mistake depending on if he or she has had enough sleep or if he or she is used to this particular surgery. It's important for patients to understand common errors so they can better recognize when they have been a victim of a mistake.

One mistake that comes up often is when the wrong type of anesthetic or medication is used. General anesthesia in particular requires precision. If any medication is in too high or too low of a dose, it could cause problems for the patient. If the patient is allergic to a drug that is used in the general anesthetic despite the surgeon or anesthetist being told about the allergy, this could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Another serious error occurs when surgeons operate on the wrong body part. This could happen due to several reasons. The wrong body part could be marked, the X-ray could be reversed or documents could get mixed up. As an example, the surgeon could write down that he or she is going to work on the left leg, but nurse could mark the patient's right leg. Defining which right and which left (the patient's right or the surgeon's right, for instance) can help eliminate the risk of this error occurring.

One other common error happens when surgeons or nurses leave medical devices inside a patient. It's common to see sponges left inside patients, because they're hard to see once covered in blood. Using digital technology, some hospitals now track sponges to make sure each one comes back out of the patient's body at the end of a surgery.

Changes in medicine are making it easier for patients to come out healthier, but errors still happen. If you're hurt, remember your rights.

Source: FindLaw, "7 Common Surgical Errors: When to Sue for Injuries," Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed March 07, 2018

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