How Often do Doctors and Surgeons make mistakes?

Being a doctor is not an easy job. You get to treat hundreds of patients every month, and every case is different from the other. Every patient wants to be treated in the best possible way. The same is the case with doctors as they try to provide the best possible treatment. However, it is often that doctors and surgeons make mistakes. It can either be while performing a routine checkup or a surgery. So, let’s take a look into how doctors and surgeons often slip while doing what they are best at.

Operating the Wrong Patient

You might not believe this at first, but doctors and surgeons do end up treating and operating the wrong patient. There have been several cases where doctors wrongly treated two patients with the same name due to confusion. The New York Times also highlighted a similar situation. In that case, the wrong patient was told that she needs to buckle up for surgery, whereas the patient stated that she was never told about the surgery. The nurse insisted, and the patient was sent to the operation theater. The mix-up was eventually discovered, but it was only after the doctors initiated the invasive procedure. Furthermore, the wrongfully treated women did recover, but it was due to sheer negligence, poor communication, and fatigue that might have caused the situation in the first place.

Breathing tube removed early.

A breathing tube is what keeps a patient alive when they are in a serious condition and are not able to breathe on their own. The same is the case when a patient is recovering after surgery. You can well imagine the seriousness of the situation in such cases where only a breathing tube is keeping a patient alive. Therefore, timing should be perfect, but unfortunately, doctors can sometimes mismanage that as well. A doctor explaining to Reader’s Digest recalls a case where a patient was coming out of esophageal surgery. The Provost thought that it would be fine to remove the breathing tube, but as soon as he did it, the patient started losing oxygen really fast. Eventually, the tube had to be reinserted after it was discovered that the patient had a swelling in his throat. In addition to that, the Provost had a hard time inserting the tube back again. Otherwise, it was only a matter of time until the patient suffered brain damage.

Ignoring a urinary catheter for too long

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that almost 75% of the urinary infections caused in hospitals while patients are being treated is due to the urinary catheters not being changed or replaced for too long. One might think as to how to make it possible when changing a urinary catheter is standard practice. Nevertheless, nurses and doctors without giving it a proper check, decide to keep the same urinary catheter attached, which results in painful complications. Even though the infections arising, as a result, can be easy to treat but not if it turns into kidney infections and damage.

Not sanitizing hands after wearing gloves.

Washing hands after wearing latex gloves is standard protocol. However, according to a study by The New York Times, health care workers who wear gloves are less likely to wash hands both before and after visiting their patients. The study considered 15 hospitals for its research and found out that the medical personnel only washed their hands 41% of the time while wearing gloves. This is dangerous in every aspect, as such recklessness can result in the spreading of infections, complicating the situation of those who are already undergoing treatment.

Spreading infection through a ventilator

Ventilators are known as surviving tools for people who are not good at breathing. Technically speaking, ventilators are used when lungs are not performing at their optimum. However, this piece of equipment has a fair share to play in, causing pneumonia. It happens when the germs make their way into the lungs through the tube. Today, doctors suggest that those who are on ventilators should not lie down flat as it can also result in this potentially serious disease. In addition to that, doctors suggest that before putting up a patient for a ventilator, patients should be propped at a temperature of at least 30 degrees.

Wrong Dosage

The wrong dosage is one of the most common occurrences in the medical field, and in some cases, it has resulted in serious consequences such as the death of a child in the U.S a couple of years back. The child was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and was given a wrong saline-solution base without the doctor giving it a thorough check. The pharmacy technician developed a solution that was 20 times stronger accidentally, and the mistake went unnoticed. As a result, the brain of the child swelled, which caused her death three days later. Eric Crop, President of the Northern Ohio Academy, was charged for involuntary manslaughter and is still haunted by the incident to this day.

Wrong Surgery

It might have never crossed your mind that a team of surgeons and medical professionals end up operating on the wrong body part. Even though the frequency of such cases as compared to others is quite low, it does indeed happen. In such cases, the patient will hang between life and death just because someday was lazy enough to not go through the details properly. In some cases, the surgeon might be fatigued, which may have caused him/her to lose focus and work on an area that did not require fixing.

Leaving objects behind in the patient’s body

As hilarious it may sound, it is an extreme case of negligence. If a hospital carries out a hundred operations in a day, almost a dozen will include the case where doctors have left surgical instruments inside the patient’s body. In one particular case, a pregnant woman by the name of Erica Parks had undergone a C-section, and it was found out that a sponge was left inside her abdomen. It took six hours of an emergency operation to remove the sponge, which had completely shut her bowls down. In such cases, where objects are left behind, patients develop infections that remain untraceable until the situation becomes worse.

Ignoring symptoms of a patient

Perhaps the most common scenario is when a doctor ignores the symptoms of a patient. This happens every day in almost every hospital and can sometimes result in death. A prominent news channel Daily Mail Online states a scenario where a patient walked in to be inspected. The doctor dismissed her complaints and referred her to a psychologist, thinking that the problem is related to depression and anxiety. Later, it was found out that she had lung cancer, which had spread throughout her body. She tried fighting it but to no avail.

Final Word

It is estimated that thousands of deaths are caused every year due to more or less the same reasons as mentioned above. While medical research and technology progress rapidly, there is always a chance of an error. Efforts all around the world are being made to reduce the probability of such mishaps, and fortunately, we are getting closer every day.