A study published by Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2016 found that each year, there are an estimated 250,000 cases of either medical or hospital errors across the United States.
Researchers set out to determine what contributes to these cases. They determined that a doctor's ability level does not generally cause these errors. Instead, they found all too often appropriate safety measures aren't taken, or medical staff doesn't properly coordinate patient care. They found that many surgical errors are caused because doctors are not consistent in the way they perform common procedures.
The researchers also note that it's beneficial for patients to work closely with their physicians to make medical decisions together. It's believed that this can reduce the chance that either medical mistakes or surgical errors will be made.
One way you, as a patient, can reduce your risk of falling victim to doctor or surgical error is by asking a lot of questions. You should try to ask questions about everything, including your diagnosis, recommended treatments and the known benefits and risks associated with them.
The researchers also note, however, that you shouldn't just listen to what your doctor tells you. Instead, they advocate for patients to do their own research regarding the treatments they're scheduled to undergo as well.
Researchers also note that you shouldn't just have anyone perform your surgery, but instead try to find someone who specializes in the particular procedure you're having done. They recommend that you also get to know your surgeon and that you have them thoroughly explain how the procedure is handled.
That note that, if the doctor you choose can effectively explain the procedure and is accustomed to performing it on a daily basis, then it's less likely that they'll make mistakes while performing it.
When you're going in to the hospital for the surgery, they suggest that you should highlight your surgical area yourself. If that's not possible, then recommend asking to not be put under until you've been able to touch base with your surgeon first. Having a friend nearby who can oversee the surgical preparation and hold doctors accountable is recommended as well.
If you experienced complications after being operated on, then you may benefit from discussing your case with a Tucson surgical error attorney who can determine if you are eligible to file a medical malpractice claim.
Source: Fox News, "Protecting yourself from surgical mistakes," Manny Alvarez, accessed Sep. 15, 2017