Surgical Errors

Any surgery, from cosmetic to life saving, is inherently risky. In addition to inherent dangers, surgeries also come with risks like anesthesia errors. Surgical risks have greatly decreased in recent years, but patients still face serious risks of injuries or death. So how does one know if a surgery gone wrong is just an unfortunate incident or surgical malpractice?

Bad Luck vs. Surgical Malpractice

Just because a surgery goes well doesn’t mean a patients won’t suffer an injury. Strict protocols dictate how and when doctors perform surgery. These protocols often help define the “standard of care.” When protocols are not followed and that standard of care is violated and damage results, it is surgical malpractice.

Causes of Surgical Malpractice

  • Surgeons – Causing injuries during surgery because of negligence make surgeons liable for their mistakes. Malpractice occurs when surgery takes place on the wrong body part, when operating under the influence, or operating while fatigued.
  • Anesthesiologists – Many instances of surgical malpractice stem from anesthesia errors or failure to properly monitor a patient under anesthesia. Anesthesiologists are responsible for preventing these mistakes.
  • Surgical Nurses – Liability also extends to nurses who assist during surgical procedures. Nurses under the influence, fatigued, or who fail to conduct appropriate post-surgical care are acting negligently.
  • Hospitals – Hospitals can also be found liable for injuries and death. Poorly maintained or unsanitary surgical facility expose patients to increased surgical risks. State and federal regulations require hospitals to maintain certain safety protocols to protect patients.
  • Doctors – Doctors must answer when they incorrectly recommend surgery as a form of treatment.

Examples of Common Surgical Errors

  • Incompetence – Surgery is a complex and competitive field, but when surgeons do not possess the latest skills and training, they can be guilty of surgical malpractice should they harm a patient.
  • Poor planning – Just as in anything complex, planning is everything. All medical personnel involved in a procedure must review a patient’s medical history prior to the operation.
    Things like allergies, drug reactions, and previous surgeries matter when performing surgery and undergoing anesthesia. Evaluating whether a surgery is worth the risks cannot occur without this information.
  • Communication errors – Horror stories of incorrect surgeries illustrate the dangers of communication errors. Also called wrong site surgery, these can be devastating and lead to serious injury, irreparable injury, and death.
  • Equipment errors – Regulations and proper safety procedures require sanitation of surgical equipment before surgeries. After a procedure, surgeons or hospital staff must account for all surgical equipment. These procedures prevent post operative infections and prevent leaving items inside the patient.
  • Neglect – This happens when instruments and other equipment are not properly sterilized or maintained, which can lead to life-threatening conditions such as infection and septic shock.

Surgical Errors Attorneys

All surgeries carry risk, but if surgical errors occur, patients have a right to seek compensation for their injuries. While many patients might be afraid to speak out against their surgeon, doing so can prevent another terrible mistake from happening to another patient. If you or someone you love has suffered a surgical error, call Lopez McHugh LLP today for a free consultation to discuss your case.


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