Whether your surgical procedure is necessary due to an immediate medical condition or is elective surgery, whether your surgery is considered major surgery or a minor procedure, there are steps you can take to reduce surgical medical errors.
Surgery performed on the wrong side (for instance, surgery done on the right knee when the surgery was supposed to be on the left knee) is rare. But you can reduce the possibility of wrong side surgery happening to you by writing the words “wrong side” or “other side” on the body part not to be operated on. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that its members sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.
Make sure your surgeon is familiar with all of your medical conditions, including the medications that you take and all of your allergies or bad reactions to medications (don’t assume that your surgeon and surgery team are aware of this information just because the information is in your medical records or because you told your other doctors this information).
As with any medical treatment that you are about to receive, ask your questions about your proposed surgery and any alternatives to the surgery (you have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care).
Make sure your personal doctor (your primary care physician) is involved in your care and is in communication with your surgeon.
Ask a family member or personal friend to be with you before your surgery when you meet with your surgeon and surgical team, and during and immediately following your surgery (in the appropriate waiting area), who is knowledgeable about your medical conditions and care instructions to act as your advocate to get things done and to speak up for you if you can’t. Check your state’s laws (and contact an attorney, if appropriate) with regard to drafting and executing a form expressing your instructions regarding your medical care and treatment.
If time permits, get a second opinion (and additional opinion(s), if appropriate) with regard to your need for the surgery and with regard to the surgical procedure to be performed.
As with all medical care, ask why a surgical procedure, test, or treatment is needed and how it can help you. You may be better off without it.
Always follow up to find out the results of all tests – no news is not always good news. Sometimes the doctor or doctor’s office thinks you have been told about your test results when you have not been contacted. If you have any questions about medical tests results,, contact your health care provider to discuss the results until you are comfortable that you understand the results and how the results affect your medical condition and need for future medical care.
When surgical errors cause injuries or suffering, contact us to find a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to help you with your claim. You can reach us toll free at 800-295-3959.