When patients in Oregon and elsewhere undergo surgery, there are many concerns and anxieties about it. Whether it is an elective, necessary or emergency surgery, patients trust the medical professionals performing the procedure. Thus, when a medical error occurs during a surgery, a patient is not only shocked by this event, but they also likely suffer additional medical issues and harms.
While any medical mistake can be a shocking experience, a surgical error can be particularly traumatic, especially in matters where the wrong body part has surgery performed on it, the incorrect procedure is complete or the patient has the surgery that was intended for another patient. While this wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient errors or WSPEs should never occur, they unfortunately still happen. This leads many to question how these serious mistakes could be made.
Causes for WSPEs
While cases of WSPEs are considered relatively rare, occurring in roughly 1 out of 112,000 surgical procedures, it is important to understand what might cause these errors to occur. A root cause analysis revealed that a major underlying factor is communication issues. This is why specific safety protocols are implemented prior to the surgery even beginning. For example, the area of the surgical site is marked. Nonetheless, this resulted in issues, as some did not know if the area was marked for the surgical site or the area to be avoided.
This is where the concept of the surgical timeout emerged. This is considered a planned pause prior to the procedure. Then, important aspects of the procedure are discussed among all involved personnel. The goal was to increase communication and prevent surgical errors.
A surgical error can cause much pain and suffering for a patient. Not only could it result in the medical issue requiring surgery to worsen, but it could also cause new medical problems. A medical malpractice action could help address these harms and losses while also holding the responsible medical professional liable for these damages.