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OR errors that should never occur in Massachusetts

On Behalf of | Dec 10, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Even after decades of campaigns to reduce preventable medical errors, Massachusetts hospitals still report cases of operating room blunders that put the patients’ lives in great danger. Here are some common errors that should never happen if reasonable precautions are taken before, during, and after surgery.

1. Miscommunication

Most operating room errors are caused by miscommunication before, during, and after the procedure. There are instances where doctors, nurses, or other staff, fail to communicate appropriately with each other or to the patient to understand every detail of the diagnosis clearly, including the suggested remedy and other details that are significant to the procedure. For example, a patient may be allergic to a certain type of medicine used during the procedure, or not knowing their previous medical history that could impact current treatment, etc.

2. Operating on the wrong site or patient

Daunting as it may sound, there are situations where a physician operates on the wrong part of the body or conducts a procedure that was meant for a different patient. For instance, there are cases where a surgeon amputates the wrong side of your leg or hand. If this happens, you will be forced to recover from the wrong procedure with the complications that may arise from it, then go through the right procedure that you were supposed to get in the first place weeks or months later.

3. Retained surgical items

It is not uncommon to hear that gauzes, scissors, safety pins, clamps, or scalpels were left inside after a medical procedure. These items could lead to serious iatrogenic illnesses afterward. Some of these items can be difficult to identify, like a sponge after soaking up blood or body fluids, may look like any other tissue in the body.

Recovering from operating room errors

If you are a victim of surgical errors, you might take action by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible party. The court may order the negligent medical professional or institution to compensate you for damages or losses suffered due to their mistakes, such as loss of earning capacity, lost wages, medical expenses, drugs, physical therapy, and any assisted device used during your recovery.

Medical institutions and practitioners have a legal duty to offer the best care to their patients. The Massachusetts court considers the breach of this duty as negligence and is punishable by law.