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Protecting yourself against surgical errors

Surgical errors can happen at almost any time, but there are a few good ways that you, as a patient, can protect yourself. Surgical errors, which can range from getting your name wrong when moving you into a surgical ward to leaving a sponge inside you after surgery, have the potential to lead to injuries.

The good news is that it's easy to prevent these incidents. The majority of errors never should have occurred because of the significance of the mistake. For instance, operating on the wrong patient or making anesthesia errors are unacceptable but yet occur fairly often.

Creating a culture of safety helps hospitals and other medical offices get on the right track with surgical mistakes, but for patients, there's something easier to be done. Simple repeat yourself.

Yes, each time you see someone, you should repeat your name. You should know what operation or treatment your're receiving. If something seems wrong, speak up. You're likely the last line of defense, so it's vital that you make sure the surgeon and other medical providers are on their toes. If they make a mistake, correct it. If they forget a medication, call for it. You shouldn't have to do these things, but being able to will help you make sure you don't suffer as a result of a recognizable error.

Of course, not all errors happen in a way that you can stop, and some may leave you in no position to speak out. Do what you can when you can, and you may prevent a serious injury.

Source: OR Today, "How To Avoid Surgical Errors," accessed May 24, 2018

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