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How does a surgical error occur?

There is no such thing as minor surgery. After all, surgical procedures are usually the last option to help a patient recover from illness or disease. Given the significance and purpose of surgery, many Maryland residents may assume that doctors will always do their best to perform a successful operation. Unfortunately, surgical errors sometimes occur, causing more harm than good to a patient.

But how do surgical errors occur? Surgical errors may involve wrong site surgery, infection in a post-surgical operation and errors during pre-surgical evaluation. According to a professional nursing association, errors in the surgical process may begin even before the surgeon enters the operating room. Hospital staff scheduling the surgery may also contribute to surgical mistakes. Hospitals that use handwritten slips and accept phone calls for scheduling procedures may put the patient at risk. It might be possible that a scheduler enters the wrong body part or orientation on the handwritten request. Surgeons may misinterpret the handwriting on the request as well. Variation in the scheduling system may increase the risk of surgical error.

Errors may also happen when the site mark is unclear. The mark may possibly wash off during preparation, which puts the patient at risk for wrong-site surgery. A surgeon may commit a surgical error if he or she rushes during the pre-operation evaluation of the patient, which may contribute to operating on a wrong patient or other surgical errors.

In any kind of medical procedure, patient safety should be the number one priority. Hospitals and doctors should never take for granted the possible risks associated with a surgery. A simple procedure may result in many complications if a medical error occurs. Fortunately, Maryland residents may use legal action to hold hospitals and doctors accountable in the event of a surgical malpractice.

Source: AORN.org, "8 Steps to Prevent Surgical Errors," July 24, 2013

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