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    What steps do you take to avoid surgical complications?


    “Prior to surgery, it’s critically important that the surgeon rethink exactly what’s going on in that individual patient, what their anatomy is, and what’s known from their preoperative studies, so both a picture of what the abnormalities are and how to approach them are clear in the surgeon’s mind.

    Read: What are you doing to work smarter, rather than harder?

    The other thing that’s very important for avoiding problems and dealing with potential complications as they come along is to develop and have back-ups in place—to consider all of the options for dealing with any problem that might occur. If, for example, you’re going to try to remove a stone from the ureter, make sure you have a backup wire in place up to the kidney, so that if something goes wrong you can always put a stent in and protect that urinary system, usually allowing it to heal on its own.

    Then, consider all other approaches once you’ve hit a difficult point in the procedure before stopping the procedure. Be aware of what is both safest and most efficacious. Have back-ups in place, consider all the alternatives before just moving forward in one direction.

    Also see: Does shock wave therapy have a future in the treatment of ED?

    Occasionally, we see people who seem to get fixed on a single idea—sort of a target fixation—without considering all of the other alternatives. That can be problematic in the emergency room when doctors get fixed on a single diagnosis, but similarly that issue occurs during surgical procedures when people get fixed on a specific approach—I have to chase down that stone, I have to follow that stent, I have to continue with this operation rather than backing up and looking at other approaches. You need to be flexible.”

    Peter N. Schlegel, MD

    New York

    Next: "Look carefully at all the information you have for surgery, from the patient point of view"

    Karen Nash
    Karen Nash is a medical reporter and media consultant based in Monroeville, PA.


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