Why are mistakes made during a brain surgery, and what are the consequences?

While brain surgery sounds scary, there are skilled surgeons who regularly perform this type of operation. Some surgeries prevent strokes; some are performed to remove tumors; and others stop bleeding and swelling following a traumatic incident. Whether a brain surgery is planned or an emergency, medical personnel can make mistakes. When these mistakes happen, the consequences can be debilitating and life changing.

Brain surgery errors can include failing to monitor a patient’s oxygen, giving too much anesthesia, and operating on the wrong side of the brain. People are sometimes surprised to learn that wrong-site surgeries occur as often as 40 times a week in U.S. hospitals and clinics, according to the Joint Commission that gives accreditation to U.S. hospitals.

A wrong-site operation can happen when:

  •  x-rays are flipped
  • doctors are in a hurry and fail to double check the medical records
  • pre-op checklists are skipped
  • visible markers aren’t used to note the correct side or area that requires surgery
  • doctors are overconfident after performing the procedures many times

When a surgeon, doctor-in-training, chief resident, nurse, anesthesiologist, or other medical professional makes a mistake during a brain surgery, the patient can come out of the operation a different person. For example, a patient who went into surgery able to walk and talk may come out unable to talk and need a wheelchair. Brain surgeries that go wrong can cause patients to suffer impaired mobility, speech impairment, and mental impairment.