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How Do Surgeons Deal with Complications?

Surgeons have a noble goal—to save the patients’ lives through surgeries. But no matter how experienced or skilled they are, complications can arise.

Patients having complications, even fatal ones, is an unfortunate part of surgeons’ careers. Because of this, surgeons strive to restore patients from complications and avoid them in the first place.

How do surgeons prevent and handle complications should they appear?

Surgeons evaluate the risks beforehand

Even before the operation, surgeons assess the patients’ health and the surgical area. They carefully check if potential complications might appear based on these factors.

For example, an ophthalmic surgeon treating a thick cataract might need to expose it more to ultrasound. But this treatment increases the risk for corneal inflammation.

Drugs like tamsulosin for enlarged prostate and kidney stones can also have eye-related side effects.

As a precaution, surgeons explain the potential complications to the patients before surgeries and treatments. Doing this increases the patients’ trust, confidence, and awareness.

As for the surgeons, properly evaluating the disadvantages of an operation helps them prepare for the risks. This precaution also motivates them to arrange more surgical plans, equipment, and medications necessary.

Surgeons stay alert and analytical

During the surgery, sudden complications can appear. Surgeons already have a “gut feeling” that something is not right while operating. With this instinct, they look for hidden risks to prevent mishaps early on.

But if the operation quickly goes in the wrong direction, surgeons know how to handle this emergency rapidly yet carefully. They do not panic. Instead, surgeons remain calm as the leaders of the surgical team.

Surgeons report the complication to the patients and provide care

When the operation ends, the surgeons should tell the patient about the complication during the surgery. They must also keep track of the patient’s recovery and provide their contact number for follow-up care.

Surgeons maintain a correct mindset

Many mishaps can happen inside and outside the operating room. Surgeries may present side effects and errors, even if the surgeon strives to keep the patient from unnecessary suffering. After all, no single operation presents a 100% success rate.

Surgeons want to improve the patients’ lives, treat their diseases, and save their lives. However, their noble goal seems to dissolve when severe complications arise.

Ultimately, surgeons are people too. They know what is at stake during operations—the patients’ lives and recovery. But surgeons may still make mistakes.

In such unfortunate times, surgeons face the temptation of being swallowed by guilt and self-judgment. Inside their minds, they may punish themselves with regret and harsh words. Others resort to alcohol, harmful behaviours, and even suicide.

Wiser surgeons understand that they cannot control the patients’ lives no matter how hard they try to save them. Unless the complication directly comes from negligence or incompetence, surgeons should not blame themselves.

No sane surgeon wants to harm or kill his patient. The patients’ body might be at fault, considering how complex one’s wellness can be. So instead of being crippled by regret, surgeons learn from the complications. They also practice self-compassion and discipline.

Their families and loved ones also serve as a support system when surgeons face failure and sadness. Aside from these, their faith and ideals can also help surgeons during difficult times in their careers.

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