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The 3 most common surgical errors that should never happen

Some medical mistakes are the result of a strange confluence of events that an individual physician or surgeon may have no control over. For example, a doctor performing a delicate surgery might nick an artery during surgery if there’s any kind of seismic activity or sudden inclement weather, such as a powerful lightning strike that shakes the building.

In most cases, however, the mistakes that occur during surgery are preventable with proper oversight, verification and attention to detail. In fact, the most common kinds of surgical mistakes are so egregious that professionals refer to them as “never events,” because they should never happen in a properly managed medical practice. Knowing these three common errors can help you to better advocate for yourself and the people you love before and after surgery.

Surgeons frequently leave items in people’s bodies

Most people have heard some kind of joke about a surgeon leaving something in a patient’s body. From sitcom jokes about candy falling into an incision to a comic strip punch line where a surgeon realizes he can’t find his watch, such events seem so ridiculous that they serve as a joke for entertainment purposes.

Unfortunately, for an estimated 39 people every week, a surgeon leaving a foreign object such as gauze or clamps behind in their body is not a joke but rather their reality. This mistake often means corrective surgery and the increased risk of infection or internal injuries.

Surgeons can perform the wrong procedure

When a surgeon has multiple procedures scheduled in a day, they may go from performing corrective surgery on a tendon to a minor amputation on the next patient. Clerical mistakes and inadequate verification can lead to a surgeon performing the wrong procedure on the wrong person, which happens about 20 times each week in the United States.

Surgeons can also perform a procedure on the wrong part of your body

Whether you need to have a cancerous kidney removed or a joint replaced, you expect that the surgeon will perform the surgery in the proper location. Unfortunately, for 20 people on average each week, the surgeon who operates on them performs the surgery on the wrong area of their body, potentially with catastrophic medical consequences. Losing your healthy kidney is as damaging as not having one with tumors removed in a timely manner.

Anyone who falls victim to these severe medical oversights may want to consider their options for a medical malpractice claim.