Surgical Errors and Their Causes

surgery%20equipment.jpgIn spite of advancements in medical technology and statistics that clearly reveal that the vast majority of medical errors that occur across the country every year are preventable, these errors continue to occur. The Joint Commission recently released a report which analyses the top causes of the most common errors.

The report focused on the top causes of sentinel events that include anesthesia- related events, operative or postoperative complications, retention of surgical objects, and wrong patient /wrong procedure events. For instance, the joint commission reports that 62% of the sentinel events were related to anesthesia care, while other causes included human factors, lack of assessment, failures of communication, leadership factors, physical environment, medication errors, continuum of care and care planning.

When it comes to operative or postoperative surgical complications, the main causes were human factors, complication failures, leadership issues, information management, lack of proper post-operative care, medication errors and continuum of care.

An unacceptable number of cases involving unintended retention of foreign objects in a patient’s body occur across the country every year. The Joint Commission received reports of 932 such events during the study period. It found that the major causes of these events were leadership and human factors, complication failures, lack of operative care, physical environment, and other factors.

When it comes to errors involving wrong patient, wrong side of the surgery, and wrong procedures, there were a total of 1,071 events that were reported to the Joint Commission during the study period. An overwhelming majority, nearly 81% of the events were linked to leadership failures, followed by the medication factors, human factors, information management, lack of assessment, physical environment, lack of proper postoperative care, and continuum of care.

Continuum of care refers to the patient’s access to care, transportation, and discharge, and communication failures between medical staff and the patient and his or her family. Planning failures refer to failures in planning for patient care and collaboration with others involved in the medical care. Information management failures are those that involve confidentiality, security of patient information, sharing of patient information, patient identification, and medical records. Medication errors involve labeling failures, errors during ordering, preparing and administration of the medication, and failure to monitor the patient during medication use.

None of these errors are unpreventable. More efficient delegation of duties, better oversight, and a stronger patient safety culture that focuses on minimizing errors to zero, can help prevent many of these errors in Indiana hospitals.

If you or someone you love was injured as a result of medical negligence at an Indiana hospital, you are likely eligible for compensation for damages. Speak to an Indiana medical malpractice lawyer at our firm about your legal remedies available to you.