Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Prevention of surgical errors

Of all the kinds of medical malpractice that can occur in Pittsburgh, surgical errors may well be the most devastating. Often the result of such an error can lead to a condition much worse than what the surgery was designed to treat. It may require more additional procedures to correct the mistake, it may result in disfigurement and longer debilitation, and in the worst case scenarios it can lead to death.

According to one surgeon, there are three major causes of such errors: (1) objective or technical failures; (2) subjective or human failures (such as a failure to communicate), and (3) failing to understand the complexity of the human body. The first type of mistake is often made due to a lack of knowledge concerning a particular subject, and the second is due to arrogance. The third mistake may be due to both lack of knowledge and arrogance.

This same surgeon said it is essential for all physicians to learn from their mistakes. Yet since each surgical error leads to such adverse consequences, we would hope that doctors would learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat the damage that has been previously done.

The mistakes that the surgeon reports above are very human in nature. In some cases, such errors may be connected to a character flaw that all of the education in the world will not correct. Still, such doctors need to be held accountable by attorneys and injured clients for their errors.

Doctors need to keep their arrogance in check and make every effort to continually educate themselves about new medical techniques and study what has and has not worked in the past. Also, doctors need to report their mistakes and participate in what the surgeon calls "morbidity and mortality conferences." Such reporting can be more instructive than any other lessons that a surgeon could learn in medical school.

Source: Archives of Opthalmology, "Learning from our mistakes," by George B. Bartley, M.D., Feb. 2012

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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