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Surgical Error

Going in For Surgery? Be Aware of These Common Medical Mistakes.

March 23, 2021 by Carrie Capouellez
surgical mistakes

Whether having minor surgery or a quadruple bypass, all surgical procedures should be considered potentially dangerous. Doctors have a duty to follow a certain standard of care when performing surgery on their patients. They should provide the type and level of care an ordinary, prudent health care professional with the same training and experience would provide under the same circumstances. This means they should not make mistakes when performing surgery; however, this is not always the case. Many doctors make significant errors during surgery that can cause a patient pain, suffering, and can even be deadly. The absolute last thing any patient wants to hear after surgery is that a mistake was made. Surgical errors are the stuff of nightmares: operating on the wrong body part, giving too much or not enough sedation, and even surgical instruments being left behind in the body. If you are going in for surgery, be aware of the following common surgical mistakes:

Performing the Wrong Procedure

After your condition has been diagnosed and your doctor has chosen a specific surgical procedure to help you, it is reasonable to expect the doctors performing the surgery will perform the appropriate operation and then send you on to recovery. Sometimes, though, a surgeon will perform the wrong procedure, which means you will not only have to continue with the originally scheduled surgery at some point, but you will also have to recover from the unnecessary surgery. If the doctors did any damage to you during the wrong procedure, you may also need that damage repaired. This is a serious mistake that can have devastating consequences.

Operating on the Wrong Body Part

It is absolutely reasonable to expect your doctor to perform surgery on the correct body part. Whether left or right arm or leg, or left or right side of the lungs, your doctor should know which body part is being operated on. These sorts of mistakes do occur and can lead to horror stories, including the amputation of the wrong limb.

Leaving a Foreign Object Inside a Patient’s Body

When performing complicated surgeries, the surgical team will use a variety of tools during the procedure. These can range from scalpels, clamps, and sponges to absorbent pads and needles. Both the surgeons and nurses are responsible for keeping track of all surgical tools. Unfortunately, some of these tools can mistakenly end up inside of a patient’s body. This is one of the most common surgery mistakes and can lead to severe infections. Many victims require additional surgery to remove the foreign object, which will increase recovery time.

Administering Too Much Anesthesia

If an anesthesiologist gives a patient too much anesthesia in error, that mistake can be fatal. Too much anesthesia can deprive the brain of oxygen, which can quickly result in severe brain damage and even death. In other instances, the patient may have a bad reaction to anesthesia which can lead to anaphylaxis. This would require the doctors to react quickly to save that patient’s life. If an anesthesia error has occurred, leaving the patient with brain damage or killing them, the patient’s family has the right to pursue financial compensation.

Inflicting Nerve Damage

Many different people are involved in a surgical team, all working in close proximity and within the patient’s body. Surgeons are often in direct contact with the patient’s nerves while performing surgery on the surrounding tissue. Nerves are very sensitive and even the slightest misstep with a scalpel can cause severe damage and result in physical paralysis. This is a serious mistake that can leave a patient permanently disabled.

Why Do Surgical Mistakes Occur?

With all surgeries being unique, every surgical mistake can be unique; however, there are many common reasons for surgical mistakes including:

  • Improper Work Processes
  • Poor Communication within the Surgical Team
  • Doctor Incompetence
  • Insufficient Preoperative Planning
  • Doctor Fatigue
  • Medical Professionals’ Abuse of Drugs or Alcohol

All surgical mistakes can be dangerous, and there are no excuses for why they occur. Surgical mistakes must be recognized quickly and treated immediately to prevent permanent harm if possible.

Signs and Symptoms of Surgical Errors

Even if a doctor has been extremely careful during a surgical procedure, mistakes can still happen. If you recently had surgery and begin to experience the following symptoms, seek immediate help from a qualified medical professional:

  • Fever
  • Intense, sharp pain on or near the surgical site
  • Burning pain when urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling near the surgical site or ports

While some of these symptoms may be side effects from the surgery, it is not safe to assume this. Always ask your doctor what to expect after a surgical procedure. If you have concerning medical symptoms, seek treatment immediately. Unfortunately, your doctor can make even more mistakes by not diagnosing an infection after surgery.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys

All surgeries carry risk, but if surgical mistakes occur, patients have the right to seek financial compensation for their injuries. While patients might feel afraid to speak out against their surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse, and/or hospital, doing so can prevent more terrible mistakes from happening to other patients – and even save lives. No patient should ever be tricked into receiving inadequate and life-threatening care at the hands of those they’ve trusted with their life. If you or someone you love has been injured by a surgical error, contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Lopez McHugh LLP today to discuss your case at no cost.

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