Advances in anesthesia, pain management and infection control have all done wonders to help people survive surgical procedures. These days, surgery is incredibly common. Adults all over the country have preventative heart procedures and purely elective cosmetic procedures every day.
Perhaps because surgery is so common, many people take for granted that surgery is safe and will always be successful. In reality, surgery comes with a number of significant risks that a patient should consider when determining what kind of treatment to undergo. These are just some of the biggest risks associated with modern surgery.
The potential for medical mistakes
Unfortunately, for a small but significant percentage of surgical patients each year, a professional’s mistake will result in dire consequences for their health. A surgeon might perform an operation on the wrong side of the patient’s body or perform the wrong surgery entirely.
Another, very concerning, form of surgical error involves leaving objects behind in someone’s body. Foreign objects can increase the risk of infection and traumatic injury while necessitating a revision procedure to retrieve the objects.
The risk of anesthesia issues
Sometimes, an anesthesiologist tasked with rendering someone unconscious and unable to feel pain during a procedure makes a major mistake. They could mix the medication they intend to give someone improperly or give them a drug that is dangerous given their personal medical history or known allergies.
Even when the doctor does everything right, people can still have adverse reactions to anesthesia, possibly manifesting an allergy for the first time. Anesthesia errors can lead to major complications and can also prove fatal. Also, those with depressed respiration due to anesthesia mistakes could experience hypoxia or lack of oxygen and end up developing brain damage as a result.
Although modern medicine has gotten much better at treating and preventing infections, viruses and bacteria that attack humans have become ever more aggressive and harder to fight.
Hospitals are often home to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, meaning that a hospital-derived infection can be particularly dangerous for an affected patient. Also, inadequate post-operative care and screening might lead to hospital workers overlooking signs of a serious infection after surgery.
While a patient certainly should not avoid surgery just because there are risks involved, they need to know about the chances of something going wrong so that they can provide informed consent and better advocate for themselves in the event that they experience adverse consequences. For example, filing a medical malpractice claim is often an appropriate response to surgical mistakes and other errors that harm someone’s outcome after undergoing treatment.