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Many people think that medical mistakes causing permanent disfigurement are extremely rare, freak occurrences, but surgical errors are an increasing problem in the healthcare industry. According to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, there are 4,000 surgical errors every year, nearly all of them preventable. In fact, doctors call these errors “never events” because they should not ever happen under any circumstances. When they do happen, the professionals in charge are usually liable for negligence.
What are some surgical errors that can cause permanent disfigurement?
Even the smallest oversight can result in severe damage that may cause health complications for the rest of the patient’s life. Researchers at Johns Hopkins found that leaving behind a foreign object in the body and operating on the wrong part of the body were the most common errors. On average, both occur about 20 times a week throughout the country. These oversights can cause lasting problems if the foreign object is in a delicate area (for instance, near the heart or spine) or is sharp. Scissors, scalpels and clamps can sever blood vessels or nerves, puncture organs, or cause debilitating pain.
It sounds bizarre, but surgeons often mistakenly operate on the wrong side of the body. Some patients have even received an amputation on a healthy limb, permanently disfiguring the patient. Removing a healthy kidney instead of a diseased kidney is also a regular occurrence.
Most surgeons schedule hundreds of surgeries each year, so it is not surprising that a surgeon occasionally performs the wrong operation on the wrong patient. This usually happens when a surgeon neglects to check the patient’s records and verifies the procedure with hospital staff. Some patients have returned home after receiving the wrong treatment, only to see their condition worsen.
A patient can be permanently disfigured if medical mistakes occur, especially when it comes to closing the incision. If the surgeon is not careful, air may be sucked into the body and enter the bloodstream. This will deprive oxygen to the brain, resulting in major brain damage. Also, if nurses don’t follow proper postoperative procedures, the patient may suffer a dangerous infection. One of the most common hospital room infections is methicillin resistant staph, or MRSA. MRSA is extremely difficult to treat and may require amputation in extreme cases.
How do medical mistakes usually happen?
Hospital staff must observe all safety protocols before beginning treatment on a patient. Some hospitals require doctors to stop and review a detailed procedural checklist before beginning the surgery. When these protocols are not followed, the doctor may misread a patient’s records. During the procedure, surgical teams that don’t observe proper safety measures will be more likely to puncture organs or cause nerve damage, both of which can result in permanent disability.
When surgical errors harm a patient, the victim can seek help from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Doctors that fail to recognize basic safety measures prior to and during surgery may be liable for any injuries they cause. Correcting surgical errors can be costly and may affect a person’s quality of life permanently. With the help of a lawyer that specializes in medical malpractice suits, the victim may be able to receive the restitution they need to move on with their life.