Surgery Complications Common

Recent research has indicated that medical errors are currently the third most common cause of death in the United States. Despite improvements in risk prevention programs and increased patient care, surgery complications are still a common threat to a patient’s well being.

Although some surgery complications are impossible to prevent, some are due to doctor error and medical malpractice. Even simple procedures carry some level of risk. It is for this reason that patients are required to sign consent forms before undergoing even routine procedures. Surgery complications are less common than many years ago, but they are still common today.

What Can Go Wrong

There are different types of complications that can occur during surgery. A common complication is excessive bleeding. Although there are average clotting rates that surgeons use to make decisions during procedures, every person clots at his or her own rate. This makes it impossible to know if a specific patient will have complications after an incision is made during a standard procedure.

Sometimes the procedure is done correctly and the patient still bleeds more than is expected. Sometimes doctors exacerbate bleeding issues by nicking an artery. These situations may require a blood transfusion or even cause long-term damage to the patient.

While bleeding risks are serious, they are by far the less concerning complications that patients experience. Doctors work long hours and sometimes make mistakes due to fatigue or stress. These complications are not only more serious, but they can sometimes be considered negligence. The following are some other problems that can occur during surgery, causing serious damage to the patient.

Surgical equipment left inside the patient: Sometimes surgeons leave behind a foreign object inside a patient after a surgery. This is much more common if a doctor is distracted or in a hurry. The most commonly left behind objects are forceps, tweezers, gauze, needles, scopes, or ties. If these foreign objects are not quickly discovered and removed, they can cause the patient severe pain and discomfort. More importantly, they can cause infections, sepsis, or even permanent organ damage.

Organ or tissue damage: Occasionally, surgeons make an error during a procedure that does damage to surrounding organs or tissues. Even a tiny slip of the hand can cause serious injury to a patient. Sometimes this can be quickly fixed by a few stitches or cauterization. Other times, the damage is permanent. It may lead to even more problems like infection, paralysis, or the loss of a limb.

Nerve damage: Just as a slip of the scalpel can cause injury to tissues in the body, a mistake can do serious damage to nerves. Nerve damage may leave the patient in horrible, untreatable pain. More serious nerve damage can lead to a loss of control of parts of the body or bodily functions, or even paralysis.

Anesthesia errors: One of the riskiest procedures of surgery is the anesthesia. Too little anesthesia can cause a patient unnecessary pain. Too much anesthesia can cause a lack of oxygen, brain damage, and even death.

Incorrect procedures: A lack of communication between hospital staff members can cause a patient to have the wrong procedure entirely. Perhaps the doctor removes the wrong organ or operates on the wrong side of the body. One of the more common examples of this is when doctors remove the wrong breast during a mastectomy or perform a double mastectomy when only one breast needs to be removed. In rare cases, doctors perform the wrong procedure on a patient entirely.