How Often Can Surgery Go Wrong?

November 14, 2007

Go to fullsize imageMore often than not… we will have one surgery in our lifetime.  And among my diabetics… almost always, eye surgeries are common because of chronic complications arising from uncontrolled blood sugar or high blood pressure.  Cataract formation is so common that surgery is often advised to improve vision.

You may have heard of horror stories of wrong surgeries done on the wrong patient or the wrong leg or the wrong eye!  How common can this be?

Recently in the November issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology comes a rather alarming data on the issue of wrong surgery on the wrong eye!


Objective  To investigate the hypothesis that surgical confusions rarely occur but are unacceptable to the public; occur in predictable circumstances; involve a wrong lens implant more often than a wrong eye, procedure, or patient.

Methods  A retrospective series of 106 cases, including 42 from the Ophthalmic Mutual Insurance Company and 64 from the New York State Health Department.

Results  The most common confusion was wrong lens implants, accounting for 67 cases (63%). Wrong-eye operations occurred in 15 cases, wrong-eye block in 14, wrong patient or procedure in 8, and wrong corneal transplant in 2.

Conclusions  Surgical confusions occur infrequently. Although they usually cause little or no permanent injury, consequences for the patient, the physician, and the profession may be serious. Measures to prevent such confusions deserve the acceptance, support, and active participation of ophthalmologists.


Doctors are humans and we make mistakes.  However wrong surgery on a wrong patient is almost always avoidable if universal precautions are adopted.  The team approach to confirming the patient’s identity on several occasions from different personnel can avoid this problem.

I always advise this to my patients who will undergo a procedure:

  1. Ask for a schedule early in the morning.
  2. Schedule the procedure on a Monday after a Sunday… when the surgeon has had plenty of rest!
  3. Look for the right surgeon and not just any surgeon.
  4. Be sure to ask around for the surgeons reputation and expertise.

Can Surgery go wrong? It can but can definitely be avoided if one is vigilant enough to avoid a disaster! It’s a matter of choosing the right guy to do the right procedure!!!

Precaution Is The Key!

2 Responses to “How Often Can Surgery Go Wrong?”

  1. Emely Says:

    When the doctors are putting syuff in or takeing stuff out they add or take take away to much of what is going on or going out.

    We will do our best to claim the Disability Tax Credit and any other related credits for you or a family member with a disability.

  2. serial number

    Brilliant blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: