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How can you minimize the risk of surgical errors?

Most people make it through surgery without negative repercussions. However, when things go wrong in surgery, there can be serious and even fatal consequences.

We put ourselves in a surgeon's hands, literally, so we may feel like we have no impact on the outcome. However, there are things that we can do to minimize the risk that something will go wrong.

First, do your homework about the procedure that your doctor has recommended. Find out if there are alternatives that would be less invasive, and ask your doctor about them. Also find out from your doctor what the risks and benefits are for each option.

Don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. Take notes and bring a family member or friend with you to help ensure that you understand what your doctor tells you and that you haven't forgotten anything.

If you go ahead with the surgery, make sure that the physician who will be performing it has a great deal of experience with the procedure. You want a surgeon who performs the procedure regularly and has had a record of good outcomes.

If possible, talk directly with the surgeon before your procedure. Make sure that he or she knows your specific situation and any additional medical issues. It will also make you feel better if you have met the surgeon prior to the day of the surgery.

One of many people's greatest fears is wrong-site surgery. Doctors or surgical staff should mark the site before the operation to ensure that there's no mistake. Make sure that this is done correctly before you are placed under anesthesia.

If you or a loved one is injured or worse during a surgical procedure, it's essential to determine whether that injury or harm was caused by the actions or negligence of the doctors or other medical personnel. Since there are statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims, it's important to seek legal guidance as quickly as possible.

Source: Fox News, "Protecting yourself from surgical mistakes," Manny Alvarez, accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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