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Miscommunication Can Lead to Serious Surgical Errors

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

When surgeons and medical professionals miscommunicate in the OR, it could result in patient injury.

Every year, millions of people enter into New York operating rooms in order to have minor or major medical procedures performed. While the majority of these procedures have positive end results, there are a number of instances where patients fall victim to surgical errors. In fact, a study released by John Hopkins University reported that at least 4,000 surgical mistakes occur each year or approximately 80 errors each week, according to Medical News Today. The actual number of operating room errors is suspected to be much greater, however, when taking into account the surgical errors that go unreported or even undiscovered. Not only can surgical mistakes lead to permanent injury and dysfunction, they can also result inpatient death in some cases.

Communication errors

One of the most common causes of surgical mistakes is miscommunication between physicians, operating room technicians and patients. The operating room can harbor a chaotic environment with several surgeons and operating room technicians attending to the patient and each other. If the operating surgeon should misunderstand or mishear a crucial piece of information, it could lead to a disastrous incident for the patient.

For example, the operating room staff must account for each piece of equipment prior to suturing up the patient. Miscommunication in locating these items could cause staff to inadvertently leave a spongy gauze pad or some other item behind inside a patient’s surgical site. This could lead to severe infection, more surgeries and even death.

Ensuring proper communication

In order to ensure proper communication takes place, surgeons should meet with each patient prior to entering the operating room, according to American Medical News. During this time, surgeons may want to verify the patient’s information, allergies, what procedure is being performed and other important information. In addition to these details, some surgeons will mark the actual operating site, such as the left knee, to reduce the risk of operating on the wrong body part.

Legal representation may be necessary

If you suffer from long-term trauma and/or significant pain as a result of a physician’s negligence, you may want to consider speaking to a personal injury attorney regarding your legal rights and options. You may have been forced to endure additional painful procedures as a result of a preventable medical error. As a victim of medical malpractice in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages from work and psychological trauma.

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