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Are surgical errors really a major concern?

Undergoing any kind of surgical procedure can be an incredibly scary experience, considering that even minor surgeries are associated with potential risks and complications. Patients’ health and safety can be especially compromised in cases where surgeons and/or attending medical staff make preventable mistakes. The truth of the matter is that completely avoidable surgical errors occur every year, resulting in serious and fatal injuries to some patients.

WebM.D. discusses several different types of surgical errors, and explains that those within the medical industry refer to them as ‘never events’ because they should never happen. According to one study, it is estimated that over $1 billion in medical malpractice awards revolve around preventable surgical mistakes annually. It was also determined that over 4,000 never events occur every year in American hospitals.

The three major types of completely preventable surgical mistakes that are widely identified in the medical field and are discussed in the survey include operations on a wrong body site, foreign objects being left in the patient’s body and the performance of a wrong surgery. Considering the some 10,000 never events that occurred over a 20-year period, it was determined that wrong surgeries are performed around 20 times each week, along with operations to the wrong body site. Leaving foreign objects inside patients is the most prevalent type of preventable surgical error and occurs almost 40 times per week in the U.S.

While the never events discussed above are some of the most well-known and highly publicized types of surgical errors that occur, medical patients are subjected to many other forms of medical malpractice every year. The information provided here is not intended to serve as legal advice, and is only meant to be educational in nature.

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