In doing some research concerning the prevalence of surgical errors, I came across an article that took me by complete surprise. The article was published online at spine-health.com The blogger opens with this, “Patients want to trust their doctors, but in a recent survey of 917 members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and NASS initiative, more than half reported observing surgical errors within the past six months. The most commonly reported errors related to problems with equipment, comprising 29% of incidents. Often, it was the instrumentation that was reported to cause error, about twice as often as implants (63% compared to 32%). Errors related to implants usually involved a missing or wrong implant.”
That’s an astounding admission that should give any prospective elective surgery patient pause. If you do elect to have surgery, remember you are your own best advocate (you should have another informed, responsible adult with you when you speak with the surgical staff) and you need to ask questions, especially about the exact nature of the procedure, what are the risks/benefits in having the surgery, and what are the possible side effects? It is standard protocol but make sure the surgical site is clearly marked before you are placed under anesthesia and make sure you or a loved one has completely and accurately filled out a medical history form. Surgical errors do occur, that’s a tragic fact. However, there are many steps you can take to minimize your risk when facing surgery.