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4 of the worst anesthesiology and surgical errors in modern times

The number of mistakes made during surgeries has prompted patients here in Oregon and elsewhere to take drastic measures to help ensure that their procedures go well. Patients are taking more time to ask questions and to choose the surgeon that makes them most comfortable, and many are writing on themselves to identify the body part that requires surgery. Many of these extra measures taken by patients are the result of hearing nightmare stories regarding anesthesiology and surgical errors.

Four such nightmare scenarios are considered some of the worst in modern times. For instance, a man undergoing exploratory abdominal surgery was not given a general anesthetic until approximately 16 minutes into the procedure. The paralytic medication he was given at the proper time was not enough to keep him from being awake, and he could feel surgeons cutting into him. He committed suicide in Feb. 2006 due to the extreme emotional trauma he suffered.

A 13-inch retractor was discovered in another patient's abdomen after undergoing a procedure to remove a 13-pound tumor that was cancerous. The retractor had to be removed in a second surgery. Reportedly, the patient did not suffer any lasting effects from the instrument being left behind.

Yet another surgeon removed a man's right testicle when it was the left one that should have been removed. The consent form signed by the surgeon was also incorrect because it identified the right testicle as the one to be removed. This man's case highlights the fact that a "simple" clerical error can be devastating to a patient.

The fourth mistake cost a transplant patient his or her life. The organs harvested for implantation were not the correct blood type, which caused the patient's body to reject them. Despite transplanting new organs approximately two weeks later, the damage had already been done, and the patient died.

Many sources will tell patients to take certain steps to ensure that no anesthesiology or surgical errors occur during a procedure. However, patients are not medical professionals, and doctors can be held responsible for the errors that occur since it is their job to get it right. Oregon patients who suffer serious injuries -- or families who lose a loved one -- during a surgery retain the right to file medical malpractice claims to that end.

Source:, "4 shocking medical errors", Mary Rechtoris, Sept. 7, 2016

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