Surgical Errors: What are Examples of Surgical Malpractice?

Judge's gavel and stethoscope visual concept for legal blog on Surgical Errors: Examples of surgical malpractice

Surgical errors can have devastating consequences for patients and their families. When things go wrong, sometimes the only way to hold surgeons and their staff responsible for the harm they caused is by proving your case in court. The dedicated surgical malpractice lawyers at The Robenalt Law Firm, Inc. have decades of experience representing people injured because of surgical malpractice. Our lawyers will evaluate your case, guide you through the process, and work to relieve your legal burden so you can focus on recovery and healing after a devastating and life-changing surgical error.

Led by Ohio medical malpractice attorney Tom Robenalt, our team knows how to fight for the rights of medical malpractice victims. We understand how hospitals, medical providers, and insurance companies handle claims of medical malpractice, and we know how intimidating it can feel for victims to take these organizations on alone.

Surgical Malpractice Examples

Medical malpractice remains an ongoing problem in the United States. It is the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Here are six of the most common surgical errors that our surgical malpractice lawyers have observed.

Wrong-Site or Wrong-Patient Surgery

Wrong-site surgery is one of the most egregious forms of surgical malpractice. Wrong-site surgery occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body, such as the wrong limb or organ, or even the wrong patient. These surgical errors can lead to catastrophic injuries and irreversible damage and are often caused by miscommunication, inadequate preoperative verification procedures, or lack of proper marking.

Foreign Objects Left in the Body

Leaving surgical instruments or foreign objects inside a patient's body is a serious form of surgical malpractice and is described as a “never ever” event. Leaving a foreign object in the body can result in infection, organ damage, and the need for additional surgeries to correct the mistake.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia is a critical aspect of surgery, and many surgical procedures are performed under local or general anesthesia. Dosage or administration errors by the anesthesiologist can have devastating consequences. Anesthesia errors include administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to adequately monitor the patient's vital signs, or not considering pre-existing medical conditions that could affect the patient's response to anesthesia.

Unnecessary Surgeries

Misdiagnosis is a common cause of unnecessary surgeries. An unwarranted medical procedure can lead to additional or worsened medical conditions and can expose patients to unnecessary risks such as nerve damage, blood clots, paralysis, and other complications.

Postoperative Negligence

The care a patient receives after surgery is as important as the surgery itself. Postoperative negligence can involve inadequate monitoring, failure to recognize and address complications, or insufficient follow-up care. Post-surgical negligence can lead to infections, complications, and delayed recovery.

Inadequate Preoperative Assessment and Planning

Before performing surgery, the surgeon must thoroughly assess a patient's medical history, allergies, and overall health. Failure to do so can lead to complications during surgery or adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Why Do Surgical Errors Happen?

Surgical errors happen for various reasons. No two cases are alike, and the reason for the surgical malpractice will likely be unique. Common causes of surgical errors include:

  • Inadequate training and experience. Surgeons and other members of the surgical team need appropriate training and experience to perform surgical procedures safely. A lack of proficiency, inadequate training, or unfamiliarity with certain techniques can contribute to surgical errors.
  • Poor communication. Miscommunication or failure to communicate between members of the surgical team are among the most common causes of surgical errors. Clear and effective communication during surgical procedures is crucial.
  • Inadequate preoperative planning. Inaccurate patient information, incomplete medical histories, and inadequate preoperative assessments can all lead to surgical errors. This could include a failure to thoroughly review X-rays, CAT scans, MRI films, or other diagnostic studies, or failure to anticipate complications that may arise. Surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare professionals must all be prepared and ensure necessary equipment is ready and available when needed.
  • Fatigue and stress. Surgeons and other members of the hospital staff and surgical team who work long hours under high stress are more likely to make mistakes. Fatigue can impair decision-making and concentration and increase the risk of catastrophic surgical errors.
  • Substance dependency and abuse. Surgeons and medical staff are notorious for working long, unpredictable hours under high stress. Some surgeons resort to drugs or alcohol to deal with the high stress and unpredictable nature of their work. Left untreated, substance abuse almost always leads to errors inside and outside the operating room.
  • Equipment and technology issues. Malfunctioning or inadequately maintained surgical equipment can lead to errors, and reliance on complex technology can introduce the potential for misinterpretation or technical failures.

What Should You Do If You Suffered from Surgical Malpractice?

If you believe you were a victim of surgical malpractice, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do. Pursuing compensation after a surgical error is a difficult and complicated process that should not be attempted without assistance from a qualified and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Claims for surgical malpractice are subject to an extremely short statute of limitations, and there are other procedural roadblocks you must overcome to obtain compensation. The surgical malpractice lawyers at the Robenalt Law Firm can evaluate your situation, explain your options, and develop a plan to seek the compensation you deserve.

We understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll that surgical malpractice can have. Our team of dedicated surgical malpractice lawyers is committed to seeking justice and securing maximum compensation for your injuries. We will evaluate your circumstances, offer advice, and fight on your behalf. To learn more, call (216) 223-7535 or contact the Robenalt Law Firm online today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.