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Common Medical Procedures Do Not Guarantee Patient Safety

By Brown Moore

February 16, 2015

Home News & Resources Common Medical Procedures Do Not Guarantee Patient Safety

Most people consider certain surgical procedures to be risk-free just because of the sheer numbers that are performed every day. Cataract surgery falls into that category, considering that nearly 22 million Americans age 40 and older are affected by cataracts, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. With about 3 million cataract surgeries performed every year in the U.S. — and a near-perfect success rate — it is easy to go in for the surgery with no concerns.

Even the most common medical surgeries can be subject to human error. Our Charlotte medical malpractice lawyers recommend that patients should perform due diligence prior to going to the operating room.

One Patient Faces Permanent Blindness in One Eye Due to a Drug Name

A combination of similar drug names and poor communication left a Durham patient permanently blind in one eye when he went in for cataract surgery in 2008. Even though the procedure is very safe, it appears that avoidable human error caused the damage.

According to a report by The Herald Sun, the doctor ordered a commonly-used dye called Vision Blue to stain the eye. The nurse brought methylene blue, which is highly toxic to the eyes. According to testimony, both the nurse and the surgical technician announced the actual drug name, but the doctor used it, anyway. Neither emergency surgery nor a corneal transplant was successful.

After years in various courts and significant finger-pointing between the parties who participated in the procedure, a Durham court found the doctor and the hospital negligent, awarding $1.5 million in damages. While the patient retained 20/20 vision in his other eye, he developed glaucoma in the surgical eye.

Patients: Protect Yourselves Before Undergoing Medical Procedures

Cataract surgery is just one of many medical procedures that are so common that doctors and surgical staff members risk taking important details for granted. While no one can absolutely prevent human error, patients need to voice their concerns by asking many questions, such as the following:

  • How many times has the physician performed this surgery?
  • Does every member of the surgical staff have a similar level of experience?
  • Is the surgery room fully-equipped with all necessary materials prior to the procedure — and what measures do the physician and other staff members take to ensure the correct items are available?

Of course, everyone should agree on the surgical site, which should be clearly marked prior to surgery. All too often, doctors operate on the wrong eye, arm, or leg.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Require Attorneys with Special Skills and Resources

Unfortunately, medicine is not an exact science, and patients who take all possible measures to help protect their safety can still sustain injuries. Even highly-skilled surgeons who do everything right cannot always achieve the best outcome for their patients.

When errors occur, the highly-technical nature of medical science makes identifying valid cases and proving medical negligence among the most challenging types of legal cases. It is important to seek support from a law firm that has individuals in the medical field on staff, as well as access to a network of highly-skilled external medical resources. For comprehensive, knowledgeable support, call us at 800-948-0577, or use our convenient online contact form.