Medical Errors and How Surgeons Prevent Them

Medical Errors and How Surgeons Prevent Them

Effective surgical methods save countless lives every day. Unfortunately, surgery is an unperfected art that, in some instances, fails to save a patient. Complications and mistakes typically lead to fatal outcomes, so knowing common medical errors and how surgeons prevent them will reduce the chances of injury or death.

Omission and Commission

There are two kinds of errors that occur on the operating table. They include:

Errors of Omission

These errors occur without action. They include failing to provide proper medication to a patient, forgetting to secure an individual during transport, or skipping necessary steps in a procedure. Education and attention to detail prevent these errors.

Errors of Commission

This error occurs when the surgeon takes an incorrect action, typically due to poor judgment or incompetence. These errors include administering a medication that interacts with a known allergy or providing too much anesthesia. Doctors can prevent fatal commission mistakes through preparedness and diligence.

Both forms of error are forms of malpractice and can occur during surgery, endangering a patient.

Blood Loss

Blood loss is one of the most common fatal occurrences during a surgical operation. Patients that lose 20 percent of their blood face hemorrhagic shock, and at 40 percent loss, many organs begin to shut down. Preventing deadly blood loss includes using a harmonic scalpel that instantly clots blood upon incision. Some devices even capture blood, clean it, and return it to patients. Most importantly, an operating room must have a dedicated doctor or team monitoring blood loss at all times.


From the dawn of medical intervention, infections have harmed countless people. In modern medicine, proper sanitation practices limit a patient’s odds of developing a life-threatening infection. Personal factors influence successful surgeries—for example, smokers are more likely to heal improperly following a surgery. Hospitals provide clean air to their patients, and operating rooms use special air filters that ensure maximum cleanliness. Doctors also utilize anti-biotics that help fight harmful bacteria in the body.


There are many tragic stories of patients throwing up during an operation and falling victim to fatal asphyxiation. Throwing up while on anesthetics can lead to accidental choking and complications during surgery. The best way to prevent this is to inform patients not to eat 12 hours before surgery and make sure anesthesiologists administer the proper medications.

Learning about common medical errors and how surgeons prevent them is overwhelming and scary—surgery is stressful. Luckily, medical advancements in technology have remedied or reduced many of these mistakes. Something as simple as LED lights to minimize operation mistakes reduces errors from surgeons. Rest assured that mistakes are rare, and surgery is necessary.

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