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Humans, while undoubtedly capable, are prone to errors. People commit mistakes in all levels, and it happens even with the best of us. This includes doctors, looked up to by most people as among the best of the best. While doctors succumb to errors as well, their mistakes cannot be taken lightly because lives are at stake. Surgery is probably the most high-risk field in medicine, where one mistake can prove very costly. What are common surgical errors doctors and the rest of his/her team commit?

  1. Wrong-site surgery- Wrong-site surgery is a term that means the surgeon operated at the wrong site. Such an error can have 2 types of consequences, with each type having equal potential to create lethal consequence. First, since the body part/organ that needs surgery wasn’t operated, the injury, illness, or condition will continue to persist. Second, because a different body part/organ was operated on, this part operated on has the potential to worsen post-surgery. Both ways, the patient loses, and the surgeon is accountable to it.
  2. Anesthesia error- This is one of the common surgical errors that’s still widely misunderstood. Anesthesia is a necessity for a lot of surgical procedures, but when administered the wrong way, can lead to some very dangerous consequences. In fact, it can even be fatal. Errors classified under this sub-field of errors include the administration of anesthesia at the wrong body region and the failure to recognize that the patient is allergic or intolerant to such substances.
  3. Infections- This is one of the most common errors happening during surgery. It also doubles as one of the most dangerous. This happens when the surgical team works on a patient using unsanitary equipment or doing the surgical procedure at an unsanitary place. When left unchecked, an infection can worsen, leading to dangerous conditions ranging from necrosis to gangrene. Infection-related diseases at their advanced states often lead to either death or mutilation.
  4. Surgical equipment in the patient’s body- These situations may seem like they were taken from fiction, but they do happen. In fact, leaving particular items inside a patient’s body is not all that unheard-of. Items commonly left inside the patient’s body include clamps, forceps, sponges, and other surgical items. When left unchecked, it can cause infections and even organ failure.

Surgical errors can be such a pain for all people concerned, most especially the patient. More importantly, these errors can prove costly when left unchecked or undetected. This is the very reason why committing common surgical errors, especially if it ends up adversely affecting the patient, is punishable by law. In fact, such acts are covered by laws on medical negligence.

Preventing these errors is actually a 2-way street. For the doctor, it’s his/her responsibility to ensure that he/she and the surgical team will do the right things as soon as the patient hits the operating room. As for the patient, it’s his/her responsibility to select a team of doctors competent enough to do surgery on him/her. Extra vigilance is essential in avoiding these medical catastrophes.