Finding out that you require surgery for your best health or potentially for your survival is often nerve-wracking. There are so many issues that can arise in surgery. Some people have allergies or terrible reactions to sedation, including general anesthesia. In some cases, these reactions can even prove fatal. There can be complications during the surgery, such as nicked veins or arteries. After the surgery, some people experience life-threatening bleeding infections.
All of these situations can happen even with the best trained medical staff carefully adhering to medical best practices. When a surgeon or surgical aid staff member makes a mistake, the potential for even more significant issues arises. While most surgeries are completed without major issues, mistakes can and do happen. Certain kinds of surgical mistakes are more common than others.
Wrong-site surgeries are more common than you think
It's a nightmare scenario. You have a tumor or another issue that requires surgery. You go under the knife, expecting to awake to a successful operation. Instead, you discover that your surgeon operated on or removed the wrong part of your body. Not only can this result in a second invasive surgery before you've fully recovered, but it can also have a profound impact on your health.
For example, the removal of the wrong organ, such as a kidney, testicle, or ovary, could leave the patient without a functional organ after the corrective surgery. That could result in a permanent loss of fertility or critical medical functions, like filtering toxins from your blood. In some cases, a wrong side surgery could even mean that a patient cannot undergo the necessary operation on the other side, reducing one's quality of life or even the length of one's life.
Wrong-site and wrong-patient surgeries can also happen
Sometimes, a surgeon cuts a patient in the completely wrong area, attempting to perform the incorrect operation. Other times, patient records get mixed up, resulting in the wrong patient having surgery performed.
In both scenarios, victims of these medical mistakes face serious consequences. A second surgery may need to happen, which can impact recovery time. Depending on the kind of surgery performed, a wrong site or wrong patient procedure could impact motor function or the overall health of the patient involved.
Doctors can leave something behind that shouldn't be there
It's been used as a gag in countless sitcoms and movies. A surgeon, after a successful operation, looks down, only to realize he or she isn't wearing a watch anymore. While a watch, specifically, may not get left behind in a patient, the potential of a foreign object getting left behind is very real.
Many times, the items left in the patient is a surgical tool. Whether it's a metal scalpel, a piece of tubing, or gauze used to absorb blood, these items pose a risk of physical damage to the surrounding tissue, as well as a risk of serious infection. That almost always means that a second surgery to remove the item is necessary. When surgeons make these kinds of medical mistakes, the patients usually end up paying.