Once in a blue moon news of doctors misplacing surgical equipments like scalpels, scissors and even cotton balls inside patients that underwent surgery are not surprising to the public anymore. But according to recent research, doctors have been doing more of these malpractices and accidents more often than we are to believe.
Published on the 19th of December last year, the statistics of malpractice made by doctors in America by unintentionally leaving medical equipments such as scissors, needles, scalpels and even cotton swabs/ball, sponges and tissues inside the bellies of the patients were recorded to be done at about forty times a week. Operations done on the wrong body part as well as operating the wrong person also happens twenty times per week.
Medical accidents are likely to happen more in hospitals wherein the majority of staff believes that the doctor is always right. This culture, if diminished, may help lessen the statistics of finding objects inside the patients because often times nurses do not feel the power of standing up to doctors even when they sense or actually know that something wrong is being done or has been done. Studies have also shown that the probability of having objects inside the patient’s body is higher especially when the patient is obese or if multiple care-teams are doing surgery on a single patient. Doctor Marty Makary is the writer of the book “Unaccountable,” a book which tackles the subject of hospital anomalies and dysfunction. According to him “what we describe in a study is the low end of the range. There are definitely more of these occurring. While some surgical errors may be avoidable, the types of mistakes accounted for in this study should never happen. These occur not because of doctors’ negligence, but because hospitals do not have good systems in place to prevent accidents.”
For two decades, more than 80,000 major surgeries have underwent errors. Minor surgeries were not given to account by Doctor Makary and his team. A percentage of seven from the 80,000 patients have died from the malpractices made by their doctors and a third of them were left with injuries that will remain for a lifetime. With these alarming statistics, what has new technology offered to help minimize further suffering to already suffering patients? Doctor Makary said accidents inside the hospital are inevitable just like road accidents will always happen, despite how careful the motorists may be. So a solution has been made: Radio Frequency ID or RFID tracking chips. RFID is done by tagging all equipments used in surgery. After surgery, the patient will be scanned throughout his or her whole body to see if anything has been left inside.
Makary also stresses that hospitals all over America should keep a record of hospital malpractices and publicly report them to promote patient safety more. Makary believes that the most important thing is for the hospitals to build an environment which the system puts the utmost safety of patients as top priority. Nurses most of all should learn to have the courage of speaking up or standing up to the doctor/s since their job is to assist doctors and monitor the safety of patients, after all. Makary shared an experience , “ I am a surgeon, and I am also human and am capable of these mistakes. I almost began an operation on the wrong patient before. A nurse who felt empowered spoke up when she felt something didn’t look right.”