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Human error contributes to surgical errors

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

Going under the knife is a stressful experience. Even if you trust your surgeon to take the utmost care with your procedure, there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong. Sadly, it is not uncommon for patients in North Carolina to experience adverse outcomes because of surgical errors.

Suffering a surgical error can significantly impact your ability to not only recover from the procedure, but also to address the root cause of your medical problems. You might also incur additional medical bills as a result. Despite the added burden, one of the biggest causes of surgical errors should be preventable — human error.

Surgical errors are often human errors

Not everything that goes wrong in the operating room is due to human error. However, a 2019 report identified human error as a contributing factor in over half of all surgical errors. The report went on to point out that the medical industry considers human error to be inevitable. Despite building systems that are supposed to mitigate that inevitable human error, patients are still suffering at the hands of negligent or reckless surgeons.

Part of the problem is that medical staff rarely know how to help minimize their own risks. Teachings on cognitive biases and human deficiencies are few and far between. This means that, while there might be systems to try and mitigate the risk, the behaviors that create many of these risks are allowed to thrive.

Patients are suffering

The researchers behind that report collected data on surgical errors from three different hospitals over the course of six months. During that time, surgeons performed approximately 5,300 procedures. Of these, there were 188 adverse events, which included:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Neurological outcomes
  • Hospital readmission

Of the 188 adverse events, human error contributed to 106 — well over 50% of all cases. The researchers pointed out that surgeons perform around 17 million procedures in America each and every year. Even if the surgical adverse outcome rate was much lower, at only about 5%, that would still mean 400,000 annual preventable surgical errors.

What are the biggest problems?

Researchers determined that the most common types of human error are cognitive errors. These include cognitive bias, lack of attention and lack of recognition. Many surgeons also lack necessary skills related to teamwork and communication.

If you are struggling after suffering a surgical error, you are not alone. Victims of surgical errors in North Carolina have also dealt with the ongoing pain and suffering, emotional trauma and mounting medical bills that you are also facing right now. Many of these victims chose to successfully address these damages via the careful actions of a medical malpractice lawsuit.