Many North County residents get nervous before they visit a surgeon for even a routine surgery. Given the high rate of deadly medical errors in the country, there is a shockingly high likelihood that something might go wrong—even if a surgeon has performed the exact procedure hundreds of times. In some situations, a medical error can result in the death of a patient and may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.
In some cases, the medical mistake might not be the surgeon’s fault and instead might concern an anesthesia error, for example. However, many surgical errors are in fact attributed to surgeons, and a lot of these mistakes are avoidable. According to a recent article in The New York Times, one of the ways that surgeons work to avoiding making errors is by using a surgery “checklist.” Is a checklist really enough to prevent medical negligence?
What is a Surgical Checklist?
What is a surgical checklist, and how might it reduce the rate of medical errors and preventable deaths? The checklist is essentially what is sounds like – a list of items to check off to ensure that surgical mistakes are not being made. Surgical checklists might include the following items:
- Confirmation of patient’s identity by name tag on his or her wrist;
- Verification of the surgical site prior to the surgery;
- Listing of patient’s allergies and any medications being used during the surgery to prevent allergic reactions;
- Identification of any blood or other fluids in the operating room in the event that they are needed;
- Identification of surgeon, nurses, and other surgery team members by name prior to beginning the surgery; and
- List of every item in the operating room, including “needles, sponges, gauze, and scalpels,” and a check box to indicate each time an item is removed from the surgical tray, used during the surgery, and returned to the steel tray (to ensure that no items are left inside the patient).
How Checklists May Reduce Error Rates During Surgery
By having a checklist in the operating room and literally checking off each item that corresponds to a preventable medical error, surgeons may be able to prevent deadly surgical mistakes. But do the checklists really work? According to the article, a 19-item checklist that has been tested in operating rooms across the country led to this result: “The mortality rate fell to 0.8% from 1.5%, and surgical complications declined to 7% from 11%.” In other words, the use of a checklist does prevent mistakes in the operating room.
But does it work in all different types of hospitals and surgical settings? According to the article, “surgical checklists [have proven] effective in diverse settings,” meaning that they reduce deaths and serious medical mistake injuries in rural hospitals and urban hospitals, as well as in outpatient surgery centers and large-scale hospital facilities.
Contact a Rancho Bernardo Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lost a loved one because of a preventable medical error, it is extremely important to speak with an experienced Rancho Bernardo wrongful death attorney about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to learn more about how our personal injury team can help with your claim.
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(image courtesy of Luis Melendez)