Surgery today is commonplace. On average, more than fifty million operations are performed each year. Many of these surgeries are performed on an outpatient, or ambulatory, basis and do not require overnight hospitalization. The scope of the procedures is huge and range from seemingly mundane cataract procedures to complex neurosurgery.
Despite medicine’s dazzling developments and successes in surgery, there is still a substantial amount of harm that occurs. More than 150,000 patients die each year following surgery—which is greater than three times the number of deaths from traffic fatalities. Further, research shows that at least half of these surgical deaths, and the major complications arising from surgery, are avoidable.