When you undergo a surgical procedure, the last thing you expect is that your surgeon or someone else on your surgical team will make a mistake that leaves you worse off then you were prior to the surgery. Unfortunately, however, surgical errors do occur, not only in the operating room itself, but also in the preoperative area and the recovery room. Furthermore, they happen with rather frightening regularity. So how do you find out if such a medical error occurred prior to, during or after your surgery?

CBS News reported that you should not assume that your surgeon will tell you about such a mistake. A nationwide survey of surgeons revealed that fewer than two-thirds of them divulged the following information to their affected patients or the patients’ families:

  • That an error occurred
  • The type of error
  • How it occurred
  • Why it occurred
  • The concern they feel for their affected patient
  • The measures they plan to take to minimize the negative effects of the error to their affected patient

Self-help

These stunning statistics put you in the position of having to be your own patient advocate. You should never hesitate to ask your surgeon if anything untoward happened before, during or after your surgery. To cover as many bases as possible, ask him or her specific questions regarding the following:

  • Preoperative procedures performed on you
  • Anesthesia administered to you
  • Whether anyone left a foreign object such as a clamp or sponge in your body
  • The nature of the postoperative care and monitoring you received

Few, if any, surgeons will lie to you when faced with such direct questions.