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Do surgical errors happen often?

Is medical malpractice really that common? Do surgical mistakes happen as often as it may seem? What can I do if I'm hurt during surgery?

These are all questions you may have if you've been hurt during a surgery. Your attorney can work with you to help you make a claim, but it's also important to know the statistics about the kind of injury you've suffered. Is it a common mistake, or is it something unusual that may be due to a doctor's lack of knowledge?

In 2012, it was reported that there were over 4,000 preventable mistakes during surgeries. There are a few kinds of mistakes that happen frequently, like leaving a foreign object in the body or performing the surgery on the wrong body part. Performing the wrong procedure is also somewhat common.

It's estimated that there are around 20 surgeries performed that were the wrong surgery for the patient each week in the United States. There are an estimated 20 surgeries performed on the wrong body part each week, and leaving an object in the body happens around 39 times a week. These are events that should never take place; there are easy ways to prevent the incidents and injuries that follow.

For instance, if a surgeon double-checks with the patient and nurses, documents and other information prior to a surgery, there should be no risk of the wrong surgery being performed. Patients with similar names shouldn't be placed in rooms next to one another. Surgeons and their staff members should be monitoring sponges and tools, counting them to make sure they're all out of the body at the end of the surgery. If these things don't happen, then it's possible for patients to end up injured or even dead.

Source: WebMD, "Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year," Jennifer Warner, accessed Sep. 14, 2015

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