Three Types of Preventable Surgical Errors

In New Mexico, hospital staff works hard to ensure that patients get the care they need every day. Unfortunately, chaotic environments, overworked hospital staff, and overcrowded hospitals can all contribute to the occurrence of preventable errors. This can be especially damaging when it comes to surgery.

The Patient Safety Network looks at three types of preventable surgical errors. They are:

  • Wrong-procedure surgery
  • Wrong-patient surgery
  • Wrong-site surgery

Wrong-procedure surgery occurs when the right patient is being operated on, but the wrong operation is done. For example, a patient may be going in to get a gall stone removed, but the gall bladder is removed instead.

Wrong-patient surgery occurs when two patients are mixed up, and one or both undergo the surgery that was meant for the other. This can be particularly catastrophic, as one person’s surgery could be much more intensive or invasive.

Finally, the National Center of Biotechnology Information looks at wrong-site surgery, which occurs when the right patient is operated on but the wrong area of their body undergoes a procedure. This most commonly occurs when there is an issue on one side of a patient’s body and the wrong side is operated on. For example, if a ligament on their left ankle was torn but their right ankle undergoes operation, this is a wrong-site surgery.

These are all considered preventable errors, as most occur because of miscommunication, hastiness, distraction, or other issues that could easily be circumvented. They may also toe into territory of negligence in some cases.

Related Posts
  • What Constitutes a Medical Error? Read More
  • Patient Safety Issues in the NICU Read More
  • The Four Elements of Medical Malpractice Read More