When something goes wrong during a surgical procedure, surgeons and doctors are obligated to disclose errors to patients and relatives. When they fail to do so, patients can suffer serious illnesses and injuries – some of which can be fatal.
The most common surgical errors, according to Patient Safety Primers, include:
- Operating on the wrong side – 59 percent of errors
- Operating on the correct side, but on the wrong site – 23 percent of errors
- Wrong medical procedure – 14 percent of errors
- Wrong patient – 5 percent of errors
Failure To Disclose Errors
CBS News reports that a recent web-based survey published in JAMA Surgery polled more than 60 surgeons in 12 different areas. When an adverse surgical event happened, most of the surgeons who participated in the survey abided by just five of eight recommended methods of disclosure.
- Explaining to patients or family members why the adverse surgical event happened
- Telling patients or family members about the error within a 24-hour period
- Showing remorse for the error
- Expressing concern for a patient’s well-being
- Taking measures to treat additional complications arising from the error
According to researchers from the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research, only 55 percent of surgeons who participated in the study took the time to apologize and discuss preventative measures that could have been taken. The survey also found that surgeons who were reluctant to do so were more likely to experience negative consequences for their errors.
Dr. Albert Wu, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, discussed the reasons why surgeons are reluctant to be forthright about errors, “It’s very difficult to talk about these things if you’re a doctor. They are disappointing, upsetting and frightening.”
Wu continues, “If a medical error occurs on a surgeon’s watch and they lose that sense of confidence, it can be detrimental and damaging to a surgeon.”
Your Needs Come First
Regardless of the anxiety faced by surgeons, hospitals and surgical centers should always put patients’ needs first. When they fail to do so and it results in further complications to a patient, they should be held accountable.
The attorneys at Braswell Murphy LLC have seen the harm surgical errors have done to patients. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or illness due to a surgical mistake, you may be eligible for compensation.