Preventing Simple Surgical Mistakes That Can Have a Lasting Impact

Too many people think that surgical complications are unavoidable, but the sad truth is that numerous medical mishaps occur due to avoidable error. The Ochs Law Firm explores common “Never Events” and provides tips on what can be done to avoid a potentially deadly situation.

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It’s unacceptable that a patient’s life would be put in danger by a surgeon who couldn’t bother to wash his or her hands or verify that they’re operating on the right body part

Jackson, WY (PRWEB) June 20, 2013

When patients submit to a medical procedure, they’re usually told of the inherent risks so they can make an informed decision about their care. Most patients, though, would be surprised to learn that even routine operations can go awry due to hospitals and doctors making preventable errors.

The Ochs Law Firm has seen the shocking repercussions of so-called “Never Events” that could have been avoided with the creation of and simple adherence to proper procedures and policies. Their Jackson medical malpractice lawyers hope that patients and hospital administrators alike will begin to understand the danger so that they can avoid it in the future.

“Every medical procedure carries certain risks,” explained Jason Edward Ochs, a lawyer who is the managing partner of the Ochs Law Firm. “But those risks should be limited to the nature of the operation and the malady doctors are attempting to correct. It’s unacceptable that a patient’s life would be put in danger by a surgeon who couldn’t bother to wash his or her hands or verify that they’re operating on the right body part.”

These types of situations and more should never happen. Ochs Law has compiled some of the most common and avoidable circumstances that lead to patient injury or death. Below each, you’ll find a description of how to avoid the threat.

•Infection- The chances of infection rise dramatically when a doctor fails to wash his or her hands or sterilize equipment prior to a procedure. A surgical site infection can lead to complications that require subsequent operations and cause lasting medical issues.

How to Avoid: Hospitals must adopt policies that enforce cleanliness. Research has shown that the installation of cameras in areas where doctors wash their hands can dramatically decrease instances of surgical workers neglecting to wash up. This in turn reduces the threat of infection.

•Leave-Behind Incidents- This occurs when a medical team fails to verify that all equipment has been removed from the patient once surgery is complete.

How to Avoid: Hospitals should create inventory systems and teams should ensure that every single tool can be accounted for prior to sewing up a patient and calling an end to the surgery

•Wrong Body Part- Believe it or not, there have been cases where a medical team conducted surgery on, for example, the wrong arm or leg, amputating the healthy appendage rather than the limb requiring surgery.

How to Avoid: When patients have attending nurses and physicians rotating in and out throughout the day, each must keep the others properly informed of the patient’s medical situation. Surgeons must carefully examine charts prior to surgery, and patients might even take a permanent marker to the correct surgical site.

•Wrong Patient- Patients might go in for a kidney transplant and see themselves waking up with a new nose. These types of incidents are shockingly commonplace.

How to Avoid: Similar to an operation on the wrong body part, these incidents can be circumvented if all members of a medical team verify a patient chart prior to surgery and ask questions whenever in doubt.

•Training-based Problems- Doctors tend to stick with what they know, but this can lead to well-respected physicians relying on dated surgical techniques which aren’t as safe as current methods. In addition, many surgical centers are turning to technology like the Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System from Intuitive Surgical. But as a June 14 Rock Center report entitled "Robotic surgery is high tech tour de force- but is it safe?" shows, it's possible that doctors are not submitting to adequate training with such complex technology and that the device itself could burn or lacerate a patient.

How to Avoid: Doctors must think twice before investing in devices like the Da Vinci. Prior to adoption, they should review the available safety information related to the device and submit to adequate training. For other training-based issues, doctors must simply make sure to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in the medical community and strive to offer patients the best care possible.

This list is only a preview of the types of medical errors that compromise patient safety around the country every day. Hospitals must constantly review policy and be transparent with patients in order to improve the care process.

Ochs Law is an award-winning practice recognized by such entities as the American Trial Lawyers Association, Super Lawyers, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Association for Justice. With offices in Wyoming, California, and Colorado, the firm is able to offer representation to victims of medical malpractice as well as assistance to persons going through divorce, filing class action lawsuits, defending against criminal accusations, and more.


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