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Will your surgeon admit to making an error?

If you are like most Louisiana residents, you likely have undergone surgery at some point in your life. You may even have an upcoming surgery already scheduled. Naturally you expect your surgeon, and all the other members of the surgical team, to know what they are doing and to do it properly. You do not expect anyone to make a mistake.

Nevertheless, surgeons and other health care professionals are human beings who sometimes do make mistakes. If someone on the surgical team makes an error in connection with your surgery, however, will you even know it happened? Will they tell you about it? Per a recent CBS News report, they may well not

Recent survey results

When researchers surveyed surgeons across the country to find out if they tell patients and their families when surgical errors occur, the distressing results were that less than two-thirds of them do. Only 62.5 percent of the surveyed surgeons said that they make it a practice to tell patients and families the following:

  • The nature of the error that occurred
  • How the error occurred
  • Why the error occurred
  • How unhappy they feel that the error happened
  • How concerned they feel for the patient’s current and future welfare
  • The steps they intend to take should the patient develop a medical problem due to the error

While you might well expect your surgeon to apologize to you if (s)he or another member of the surgical team made an error prior to, during, or subsequent to your surgery, only 55 percent of the surveyed surgeons said they actually apologized to the affected patients.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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