Some of the causes of surgical errors

A study recently released by the Mayo Clinic has shed some insight into the ways some medical errors can occur due to human behavior. The researchers studied 69 “never events”, called that because they should never occur, that took place over a five-year period at the Minnesota clinic during which a total of 1.5 million surgical procedures were performed. Their analysis revealed that somewhere between four and nine human errors contributed to each mistake.

According to the study, many surgical mistakes occur due to a combination of contributing factors. Incidents like performing incorrect procedures, leaving foreign objects in patients and implanting the wrong devices could happen even under the watch of skilled workers. While almost 66 percent of the major errors surveyed in the study took place during non-life-threatening operations, like endoscopy and anesthetization, patients still face potentially high risks.

The study’s authors recommended a number of remedies to prevent so-called “never events” from taking place. These included systems like bar-code and counting mechanisms to track surgical sponges, better debriefings and procedural changes in how surgeries take place. By employing an analysis originally designed to determine the causes of aviation accidents, researchers attempted to classify errors based on their nature in the hope that they will ultimately shed more light on effective solutions.

Although some medical institutions actively strive to reduce the incidence of errors during their procedures, patients still run risks any time they receive care. Doctor errors can result in serious aftermaths. Affected patients might have to undergo extensive followups or even face life-threatening conditions as a result of receiving the wrong initial treatment. An attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation might determine through an examination of the patient’s electronic health records that the practitioner failed to observe the requisite standard of care and should thus be held financially responsible for the patient’s losses through a civil lawsuit.