Patients can take precautions to avoid surgical errors, part one

It is tragic when already ill or injured patients in a Chicago hospital undergoing surgery suffer further injury because of surgical errors and medical malpractice. Although it is the responsibility of hospital staff and other medical professionals to make sure that they are following procedures closely in order to prevent themselves from making mistakes that should never happen, there are also some simple measures patients and their families can take to try to avoid becoming victims of medical malpractice.

The most important step a surgery patient and his or her family can take in Illinois to avoid serious mistakes during procedures is to communicate not only with the surgeon, but with the rest of the staff that will be involved with the surgical operation. Patients should confirm their identity as well as the operation that should be performed.

Experts say that surgical errors do occur, and can include such seemingly obvious mistakes as operating on the wrong side of the patient’s body, mistakenly believing that a hernia, for example, is on the patient’s left side, rather than the right. In one instance, a surgeon removed a patient’s healthy kidney, leaving the patient with the one compromised by cancer. In another case of negligence, doctors removed an appendix, but operated on the wrong patient altogether instead of the patient that needed the appendix removed.

While a doctor may find it insulting and the hospital staff may consider it unnecessary, it cannot hurt for a patient or a family member, prior to an operation, to insist on confirming with the surgeon and other hospital staff which side of the patient’s body will be operated on. It also cannot hurt to confirm right before surgery what procedure will be performed in order to make sure the staff is prepared for the correct operation.

We will continue this discussion later this week, focusing on some other measures surgery patients in Illinois and their loved ones can take in order to help prevent surgeons from making life-threatening mistakes.

Source: cnn health, “Don’t become the victim of a surgical error,” Elizabeth Cohen, last assessed July 17, 2008

Surgical Errors


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