Surgical errors occur at a surprising rate across the U.S.

Surgical errors occur more often than some may think and many of these mistakes are preventable if the right precautions are taken.

Surgical procedures have saved the lives of countless people in West Virginia and across the country. There are a surprising number of cases, however, where surgical mistakes in the operating room have led to lifelong consequences for unsuspecting patients. According to a study published in the medical journal Surgery, surgical mistakes occur approximately 80 times every week across the country. In some cases, patients must undergo further surgical procedures in order to fix the errors, which can increase the chance of infection, pain and prolong the patient's recovery time. Most of these errors are preventable, leaving some medical institutions grasping for ways that they can keep these tragic accidents from happening.

Understanding the types of surgical errors

There are several types of mishaps that can occur in a chaotic operating room atmosphere. According to American Medical News, these errors include:

  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure on the wrong patient
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Leaving a surgical instrument behind in a patient's incision
  • Failing to use proper aseptic technique

Miscommunication can lead to errors that takes place in the OR, and can be devastating for a patient who is undergoing a procedure. Surgeons who are distracted, fatigued or acting in a negligent manner are also to blame for the high rate of surgical mistakes across the country.

Preventing operating room mistakes

Reducing the risk of OR errors may be as simple as speaking to the patient before he or she enters the operating room. A meeting before the procedure allows the surgeon and other medical professionals to prepare the patient for the surgical process, and to review patient information, such as allergies.

Advanced technology used in the operating room allows staff to better account for all of the surgical supplies that are being used during the procedure. Many medical facilities continue to take periodic time outs to manually count the supplies. However, these counts may not be accurate and an instrument could get left behind in a patient's surgical site. According to the National Institutes of Health, bar coding and radiofrequency tagging can reduce the risk of this error.

The dangers of medical malpractice

People who have been victimized by surgical errors or any other form of medical malpractice may be left with serious injuries, hefty medical expenses and emotional trauma. Furthermore, you may not be able to work because of your injuries. A West Virginia attorney may be able to help review your case, and determine whether you are eligible for compensation.