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When A Surgery Goes Wrong
When A Surgery Goes Wrong

AIR DATE: October 6, 2010

What happens when a surgery goes wrong? What happens if a scalpel slips, or if the wrong organ is removed? Las Vegas Sun reporter Marshall Allen takes us inside the horror stories of what happens after patients close their eyes in the surgery room.

Also, patients recount their own experiences, and doctors weigh in and how much room for error is acceptable. Who is at fault: the doctor? The hospital? Or are mistakes inevitable when it comes to life-and-death medicine? Have you had a bad experience under the knife? Whose fault was it? And where should surgeons focus on improvement?

Marshall Allen, health reporter, LV Sun
Bill Berry, surgical consultant, Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions; Boston Project Dir, Safe Surgery Saves Lives initiative with WHO/World Alliance for Patient Safety

comments powered by Disqus
This is a very convoluted issue. We have some excellent doctors and healthcare workers and we have some bad doctors and healthcare workers. The problem we have is there is no effective recourse for reporting the bad ones. Those who work in the field are hesitant to report doctors or others because then they open themselves up to being sued for slander. If we can't report on those within our own field, then we can never improve the healthcare provided.

I'd also like to point out that surgeries and hospital stays carry risks. Malpractice definition is a "substandard level of care." It is NOT a bad outcome when everything was done correctly. This is something that the public forgets and needs to understand before rushing to sue a Doctor or hospital.

Yes, there are cases that are clearly a malpractice situation. But many of the cases that are brought about are just unfortunate outcomes, not malpractice. Doctors are not superhuman. But people get emotional, forget that the doctor and hospital briefed them on the risks before surgery, and want "justice."

Amy [via email]Oct 5, 2010 12:41:56 PM
first,malpractice due really happen. second,the hospital will not kill the goose that lays the golden. I have tried calling the hospital management and administration's attention, and nothing has ever happened, that is unless a lawsuit has been filed and the hospital will drop that surgeon like a hot potato. the hospital will wash it's hands and will claim no knowledge! but if that surgeon keeps on bringing in the dollars they are the best of friends.
joseOct 5, 2010 16:41:08 PM
Do doctors listen to all patients equally? In particular, does a middle-class, college educated, white male fair better than a poorly educated minority woman? To what measure does a voice of authority or simply use of "standard English" effect quality of care? Thank you.
Scott SwankOct 5, 2010 09:51:36 AM
When something goes wrong at the hospital, and additional surgery or care is needed, who pays for it? If you take your car in and the work isn't done right, usually the garage will cover their errors. In these days of such huge medical costs, perhaps there should be some sharing of these expenses.
KirkOct 5, 2010 09:40:50 AM
When I had to stay overnight at two area hospitals, I just had the feeling that the nurses and doctors couldn't care less about me. I take good care of myself. I don't want to be at the mercy of people that see me as simply a means to a new Audi.
Elizabeth C.Oct 5, 2010 09:37:15 AM
Overworked, is very prevalent both on surgeons and hospital staff. If you go in several hospitals here in Las Vegas you would notice same familiar faces working all the time in different hospitals. exhaustion and irritability is very notable among those staff.

Surgeons are on call and worked in several hospitals. Working in the OR during a surgery is like being a surgeons secretary as you have to answer all his cell phone calls from his office and other hospitals. And surgeons do surgeries non-stop sometimes more than 16 hrs.

I tried to refuse to work with one surgeon one time after learning that he had worked more than 20hrs non-stop that day because I felt it was unsafe for the patient, the hospital administration told me it was OK because the surgeon claimed he already slept for 2hrs and he was OK! Now is that patient first?

joseOct 5, 2010 09:37:14 AM
Good morning. I am listening to the lady's horrible experience and I am sorry to hear about her loss. The clamp they are talking about it actually an endoscopic clip applier used to clip both the hepatic artery and cystic duct. From my experience as an OR RN, surgeons 99% of the time use same size clip appliers all the time, it only when the surgeon is in a hurry that he fails to check if the clips were applied properly and is secured. there is some degree of omission and neglect when these sort of things happens. It is a case of haste make waste.

Then when this happens, the surgeon blames the equipment, staff and hospital never himself. Then the hospital blames the surgeon. No one takes or admits responsibility or accountability for fear of admitting guilt and litigation.

Las Vegas healthcare is in dismal state!

joseOct 5, 2010 09:25:16 AM
Having surgery here in Las Vegas is literally getting it done the Las Vegas way, that is gambling with one's life. Las Vegas surgeons are not the best to put it politely. Most of them are young and inexperienced or too old, or just in hurry. The hospital are under-staffing and putting a lot pressure on their staff to perform with very limited resources. The bottom line is the dollar sign and patient safety and quality of care is almost an after thought. I have seen this first hand. I worked in several hospitals in Las Vegas, in the operating room.
joseOct 5, 2010 07:51:11 AM
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