Each day, people place their trust, well-being, and often their lives, in the hands of surgeons, expecting a medical procedure to go as planned. All surgeries involve inherent risks, however. When surgical errors injure patients, victims may be able to obtain compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What is a Surgical Error?

Generally, a surgical error is a preventable mistake that occurs during surgery. An error does not necessarily mean that a surgeon committed malpractice, however. To have a valid claim, it is necessary show that the patient’s injury was caused by the surgeon’s or hospital’s failure to provide the accepted medical standard of care.

Common surgical errors that are the basis for medical malpractice claims include:

  • Nerve Injuries — when surgeons operate close to nerves, surgical instruments can sever or slice nerves or cause a serious nerve damage. Nerve damage can also arise during the administration of general anesthesia if a patient is in a position that pinches a nerve.
  • Anesthesia Errors — a patient who is given too much anesthesia may be deprived of oxygen which can result in brain damage or death. Administering too little anesthesia may cause a patient to wake up during a surgical procedure and experience tremendous pain.
  • Surgical Instruments Left Inside a Patient –- scalpels, clamps, sponges, gauze and other surgical equipment are frequently left inside a patient’s bodies, which can cause extreme pain, severe infections or even death.
  • Wrong Body Part Surgery — also referred to as “wrong side” surgeries, such errors can lead to the removal of a healthy organ rather than a diseased one or the amputation of the wrong limb.
  • Wrong Patient Surgery – lack of preoperative verification or poor hospital protocol can lead to wrong patient surgeries and the removal of healthy organs or otherwise injure patients don’t have the correct surgery.

What causes surgical errors?

Some common reasons for surgical errors include:

  • Incompetence — A surgeon may be lacking in skill or experience to perform a particular the surgery
  • Insufficient preoperative planning — All surgeons must be prepare by reviewing and preparing for any complicatins that may arise during a procedure while nurses and medical assistants must make sure all the required surgical instruments and medical equipment is ready and available
  • Improper procedures -– Surgeons who perform multiple procedures each day may take shortcuts or skip certain steps to handle the patient load
  • Poor communication — Failing to communicate in a hospital setting can result in marking the wrong site for surgery, failing to make needed surgical equipment available, or administering the improper dosage of a patient’s medication
  • Fatigue — Surgeons and operating room staff frequently work long shifts, and perform multiple operations which can cause in fatigue that results in medical mistakes
  • Drug/alcohol use — surgeons who use or abuse drugs can have their skills impaired or even even perform operations while under the influence
  • Neglect — Surgeons may fail to act with due care by failing to ensure instruments are properly sterilized or knowingly using outdated surgical equipment

Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice

If you were injured by a surgeon’s or a hospital’s incompetence, you may have a viable medical malpractice claim as long as you can prove the surgeon, medical team or hospital failed to provide the appropriate standard of care. Because of the inherent risks involved in all medical procedures, even minor surgeries, it takes a skilled personal injury attorney to protect your rights.

Posted in: Personal Injury