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Medical errors preventable with procedural compliance

Arizona residents who go to hospitals and other health care facilities for medical assistance may be understandably worried about whether they'll receive the correct treatments. Mistakes like anesthesia being administered on the wrong side of the body continue to occur even with the existence of zero-tolerance policies. While less serious than surgical mistakes, experts say that these anesthesia errors can still result in complications.

In a case reported by Anesthesiology News in September 2016, a 59-year-old woman was being prepared for a right knee operation that required anesthesia to her spine, a shot to a major nerve in the target limb and a catheter insertion. After administering the anesthesia based on a mark the surgeon had made on the patient's knee, the anesthesia team discovered that the mark had transferred to her other leg where the knees made contact.

Doctors said that although the marks could have seriously confused the matter, the care facility's procedures ensured no errors actually occurred. Because both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist marked the site and the correct surgical actions were confirmed using the patient's medical records and consent forms, the team was able to avoid mistakes. Experts who commented on the case, however, noted that although all institutions implement such checklist procedures, their lack of uniformity could result in errors.

Different caregivers handle risks in unique ways, and this may contribute to the likelihood that patients will suffer from surgical errors. Being treated by a careless surgeon or improperly briefed anesthesiologist could cause victims to sustain additional harm and develop costly long-term complications. Victims may find it helpful to talk to a lawyer who can help them prove that their surgeon's mistake constituted compensable medical malpractice.

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Law Offices of Raymond J. Slomski, P.C.

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