When Tennessee Surgical Mistakes Happen: Protect Yourself

You have heard the horror stories – medical instruments and sponges being left inside a patient during surgery, and operations on the wrong body part, the wrong side of the body or even the wrong patient. In some cases, the post-op care is neglected and serious infection results. And while these medical mistakes are rare, they do happen. When they happen to you or a loved one, you realize there is really no excuse.

These surgical errors occur because of some kind of negligence. Maybe your name sounds like another patient’s name. Maybe an x-ray was turned the wrong way. Sadly, we do not know exactly how many of these errors happen each year because they are not all reported.

What you can do to avoid surgical mistakes:

  • To avoid being one of the statistics, there are some things you can do as a patient to avoid the more common mistakes. Here are a few good ideas to protect yourself or a family member who is facing surgery:
  • Be sure you have discussed your upcoming surgery in detail with your surgeon, especially if the body part to be operated on has a mate, as in hands, legs, feet and eyes.
  • If it is possible, ask if you can remain awake during the surgery. Although this is not always an option, sometimes a spinal or epidural can remove the pain and allow you to know what is happening.
  • Some experts advise you to mark the body part to be operated on prior to surgerywith permanent marker. For example, You could write “this hand”. You could even write “not this hand”. In addition, you could write your name near the surgical site to avoid being confused with some other patient.

What your medical team is supposed to do to avoid surgical mistakes:

Of course, as a patient, you have the least control of the situation. In July 2004, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations instituted steps to be followed in every operating room. And if they are not, the hospital can lose its accreditation. These rules include:

  • The surgeon should sign the incision site with an indelible marker while the patient is still awake. And just marking with an X is not enough; confusion abounds unless a clear mark is made only where the surgery is to take place.
  • Before the surgery begins, operating teams are required to stop and confirm the patient’s name and that it is the correct patient, and verify what procedure will take place.

The worst thing about surgical errors is that they never have to happen at all. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a Tennessee operating room, you have rights protected by medical malpractice laws. Contact a Memphis Medical Malpractice lawyer at Bailey & Greer if you have any questions about this serious issue. Call us toll-free today at 901-680-9777 to schedule a free consultation.