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Equipment issues sometimes to blame for surgical errors

Depending on the circumstances the decision to undergo a surgery can be difficult. Since no surgery is without risk, this is understandable. To help minimize the chance of an issue occurring during a surgery, some will spend time seeking out the best possible surgeon to perform the procedure. While this may have an impact, it does not mean that medical mistakes will not be made. There are other reasons why this could occur such as issues with the technology used.

A study conducted last year that was published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety, focuses on this issue. It found that approximately 24 percent, of the roughly 15 errors that occur in the course of a typical surgical procedure, involve equipment failure. Since surgeries rely more and more upon technological instruments, this matter should be paid attention to.

The study broke the equipment failures down into three types and determined the percentage of failures attributed to each. They are as follows:

  • Device malfunctioning- 33 percent.
  • Issues with equipment configuration and settings-44 percent.
  • Lack of availability of needed equipment-37 percent.

Fortunately, there are things that medical providers involved in surgeries can do to try to reduce the likelihood of such issues occurring.

The first is to make sure that the staff using the equipment is properly trained. In addition, performing an equipment check prior to the procedure also helped. According to the study, taking these steps could reduce the rate of errors that occur due to equipment failure, by half.

Even when technological problems are to blame for an injury inducing surgical error, it may be possible to hold medical providers responsible for the error. Since medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely complicated, the sooner a lawyer who handles such cases is contacted, the better.

Source: Live Science, “1 in 4 Surgery Errors Due to Technology Problems,” Bahar Gholipour, July 25, 2013

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