Among the most serious medical malpractice incidents are surgical errors. Unfortunately, despite the recommendation of and increased use of checklists before surgery, about 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the U.S.
Common types of surgical errors
There are numerous ways patients can be injured during the surgical process. The negligence could occur pre-surgery, during the procedure, or post-op.
- Pre-operative planning was not done correctly
- Surgeon removed the wrong organ
- Surgery staff left surgical instruments inside the patient
- Operation was given to the wrong patient
- Anesthesia-related errors were made
- Organ was punctured during surgery
- Incorrect placement or poorly performed medical implant
- Breathing tube removed too soon after surgery
- Instruments weren’t sterilized
- Surgeon operated on the wrong side (i.e. limb, kidney, or breast) or incorrect part of the body
These are known as “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient” errors. Other surgical mistakes include a surgeon (or staff) being too fatigued or impaired by drugs/alcohol, resulting in carelessness.
Effects of surgical errors
While some mistakes are minor, unfortunately, there are times surgical errors aren’t so easily corrected. As a result of negligence during a surgery, a patient could experience permanent injury or suffering. Examples including, but not limited to are:
- Nerve damage
- Brain injury
- Primary or secondary infections
- Organ damage or loss of function
Medical facilities put mechanisms in place to prevent mistakes but sometimes things go wrong and someone gets hurt.
When to seek legal representation
If you, or a loved one, are suffering due to an act or behavior caused before, during, or after surgery, you could be entitled to compensation. Even if the effects are minor, they could become more serious over time. Long-term effects of surgical errors can include:
- Ongoing medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Inability to work
It’s important to understand not all surgical errors mean anyone is liable. However, a medical malpractice attorney can examine the facts relating to the situation. Your attorney will determine if medical standards of care were followed during the surgery (in many cases they weren’t) and determine if a medical malpractice case exists depending on the level of harm received from the negligence.