Yes absolutely I believe this is true- Surgeons make mistakes because we are ignorant!
Much of this has to do with how we are trained. I commonly hear “when I was a resident” which of course means “that is how we did it and there is no other way”. We cease training the last day of residency. We then use the if-then methodology. But that is not how life is in reality.
While some events are deterministic (this is for certain, ‘always’), some are probabilistic (we know the potential chance that it will occur), most are stochastic (subject to chance). Unfortunately
Medicine is taught as a deterministic science but in reality it is NOT deterministic but is stochastic. There are many options for many different scenarios and virtually nothing is 100% certain.
Since my PhD in Industrial engineering, I understand the whole field of human error much better now.
You must realize that errors occur in either two ways: mistakes (occur during learning and are amenable to training) or Slips (which occur in the experienced person when they are not focused or distracted).
The only complications that occur in medicine that are truly due to systems’ problems are sentinel events and those are the ones that hit the paper. In our paper, none of the complications were sentinel events. For every sentinel event there are thousands of non-sentinel events. These occur because we are not paying attention.
Peter J. Fabri, MD, PhD; Surgeon and PhD in Industrial Engineering at the University of South Florida; currently faculty in Colleges of Engineering and Medicine in the new hybrid discipline of "Health Systems Engineering".