Saturday, January 31, 2009

Uncommon Surgical Errors

Television watchers who follow Grey's Anatomy avidly will recall in the first season a woman came back to the hospital with a piece of a towel left inside of her abdomen from an earlier surgery at the same hospital. It was a horrific situation for the woman to be in as she had gone into the hospital expecting to be fixed and came out with a new problem that took years of mixed diagnoses to fix. While it may sound like fiction, it is not rare for a surgical team to forget to remove something from an individual's body cavity prior to stitching the person up.

When an implement is left behind, it is generally not done so on purpose. Surgical implements fall or get covered by an internal organ that is put back in its appropriate place. The implement left behind can be anything from a piece of gauze to something much more hazardous to a person's health.

Unfortunately, this type of accident is typically only fixable by a second round of surgery and all of the risks that imparts. With surgery come anesthetics and all of the risks associated with being put completely under. Reactions to the medications used are sometimes deadly. It is usually best to avoid surgery as much as possible, despite all of the precautions taken.

Another problem that sometimes occurs is the amputation or surgery on the wrong leg. For example, an individual might need to have bits of cartilage removed from his or her right knee. The doctor or nurse, however, will cut open the left knee and then be shocked not to find any cartilage. This is a problem because now the patient has to have a second bout of new surgery and is still living with the pain from torn cartilage.

The same thing can happen with an amputation. The problem with an amputation being that it can't be fixed by a simple surgery. A person scheduled to have his or her right foot removed can have his or her left foot removed but that doesn't fix the problem. So now, after the correct surgery is performed, the poor patient is left with no feet as opposed to one foot and a prosthetic. Even with all of the physical therapy in the world, a person may not ever regain full mobility.

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Joseph Devine

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