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What are some important facts about surgical errors?

Surgical errors take place every year and affect thousands of people. According to a report from 2012, over 4,000 preventable mistakes take place every year, leading to medical malpractice lawsuits and payouts. If you're operated on and suffer one of these mistakes, it's your right to speak up and seek compensation.

How preventable are these mistakes?

Some mistakes are referred to as "never events" because they are events that never should have occurred. They include things like operating on the wrong part of the body, operating on the wrong patient, or leaving a sponge or tool inside the patient.

Every week, it's estimated that the wrong body part is operated on around 20 times in the United States. Leaving a foreign object in the body is also common, and it's estimated that leaving an item inside a patient happens 39 times a week on average.

What is being done to prevent these mistakes?

Despite knowing that surgical errors happen too frequently, not much is done to prevent them. Things like tool and sponge counts can help make sure they aren't left inside a patient, and speaking with your doctor about the operation and exactly where it will take place can help you prevent wrong-site injuries by alerting the staff if the wrong body part is marked.

The truth is that many never events aren't reported; some aren't known about, and others never come to light. It's estimated that 4,044 surgical errors take place each year within the United States alone, though the number may be much higher than that if you estimate for the events that are not reported to known about by patients.

Source: WebMD, "Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year," Jennifer Warner, accessed April 14, 2016

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