Common Types of Surgical Errors

Surgical Errors

In the U.S. alone, there are around 40 to 50 million major surgeries performed every year. Being put under anesthesia for surgery requires placing a great deal of trust in our surgeon and the other medical staff who will help carry out the surgery. Thankfully, the vast majority of surgeries go well but surgical errors still account for thousands of adverse events annually. While most surgical errors do not rise to the level of medical negligence, there are grievous examples such as heart surgery being performed on the wrong patient.

If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a surgical error, you deserve to know whether you have a medical malpractice case. Call an experienced local medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal rights.

What is a surgical error?

A surgical error is a preventable mistake that occurred during surgery. A surgical error is outside the list of known risks of a particular surgery; it is an unexpected error. When a surgical error is caused by negligence and results in damages such as medical bills and lost wages, a medical malpractice claim may be an appropriate course of action.

Common types of surgical errors

The most common type of surgical error is anesthesia errors. Anesthesia errors are also the most serious surgical error because if too much anesthesia is administered, the patient will be deprived of oxygen, which can cause brain damage and death.

Other common surgical errors include:

  • Nerve injury
  • Hemorrhage
  • Amputating the wrong limb
  • Leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside the patient such as a sponge or instrument
  • An incision in the wrong part of the body
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Operating on the wrong patient

Surgical errors statistics

According to government statistics, at least 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States. The risk of accidental hemorrhage caused by lacerations and injury to surrounding tissues increases during robotic surgery. Washington hospitals and surgical facilities alone have reported over 350 surgical adverse events since 2006.

Why do surgical errors occur?

There are many reasons that surgical errors may occur, including:

Incompetence. In some cases, the surgeon doesn’t have the necessary experience to perform the surgery successfully.

Intoxication. Believe it or not, there are rare occasions where surgeons enter the operating room intoxicated.

Fatigue. It is a known problem that surgeons and other medical professionals are often asked to work very long shifts; leading to fatigue and an increased risk for errors.

Neglect. Sometimes errors occur due to pure neglect, such as failing to sterilize surgical equipment before a surgery or the known use of malfunctioning medical equipment.

Improper work process. When a surgeon skips steps or takes shortcuts during the surgical process, they are risking making critical errors that may injure their patient.

Poor communication. Failure to communicate properly can cause serious complications. Poor communication can result in a surgeon marking the wrong site for surgery or a nurse administering the wrong dosage of medication to the patient.

Insufficient preoperative planning. It is very important for surgeons, nurses, and other assistants to perform effective preoperative planning. Among other things, this means understanding potential complications that could arise with the surgery and the individual’s personal health history, as well as ensuring that all required equipment is ready to go.

If you were injured as a result of a surgery and you believe the error was caused by negligent care, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can assess your case and discuss your legal rights.

The Seattle Personal Injury Attorneys You Want on Your Side

The personal injury attorneys at Tinker Law Firm have been winning birth injury, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases for individuals and their loved ones in Seattle and across Washington State since 1974. We seek justice for injury victims who have been harmed by preventable medical errors, and the negligent or abusive actions of another. Our clients pay no fees or expenses to file a personal injury claim; our firm advances out-of-pocket expenses and is only reimbursed when we recover a settlement on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims in Washington State have a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time from the date of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled and experienced injury attorneys.