surgical-errors
Each year, about 234 million major operations take place around the world. During these procedures, about 1 million patients die annually, and millions more suffer from preventable complications like infections and injuries.* Furthermore, a 2008 study has shown that 84% of surgical errors occur in routine operations, and 73% involved experienced surgeons.*

Simply experiencing a surgical error, however, does not always point towards surgical error or malpractice. In order to establish malpractice, it must be demonstrated that a surgeon failed to perform the surgery within the standard of care reasonably expected by other surgeons under similar circumstances and that the failure to meet this duty of care resulted in your personal injury.

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

There are a wide variety of contributing factors to medical malpractice involving surgical errors and surgical negligence, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Inattentiveness
  • Miscommunication
  • Poor pre-operative planning or care (diet, medical history, health issues, medications and lifestyle choices)
  • Delayed or prolonged surgery
  • Using unsanitary surgical tools, operating rooms, or gloves/hands
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Accidental cuts or perforations of organs or other parts of the anatomy
  • Foreign bodies left inside the patient after surgery
  • Using the wrong or inappropriate instruments during surgery
  • Anesthesia complications both during procedure and post op
  • Failure to inform a patient of a surgical error and make a timely repair
  • Improper medical management, including administering the wrong drug or drug overdose
  • Improper monitoring of a patient

Complications Involving Surgical Errors

There is always a chance that complications will arise from certain surgical procedures, despite the best efforts of a surgeon. A complication only becomes a surgical error if it is the result of a surgical mistake, meaning that there was a lapse in control or quality by the surgeon out of line with normal standards of care. For instance, a properly performed routine surgery that causes injuries to abnormally positioned internal organ is a complication, if the surgeon performed the procedure within the accepted standard of care and could not have reasonably known about the mispositioned organ. If however, a surgeon makes an incision or insertion at the wrong location for that specific procedure and causes damage to an internal organ, this is clearly a surgical error.

If a surgeon fails to inform a patient of potential complications that could arise from a procedure, then any complication that arises from the surgery could be reasonably considered a surgical error* combined with a lack of informed consent.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of surgical errors identified in malpractice claims result in serious injury. According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, as much as one quarter of surgical errors lead to death.*

Victims of surgical errors and their families must often deal with devastating long-term complications, such as:

  • Additional surgeries to correct the original surgical error
  • Infection
  • Organ damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Scarring or disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Death

If you believe you or someone you know has been the victim of a surgical error, it is important you contact one of our experienced attorneys to help you understand your rights.

Let the Attorneys and Medical Investigators at Schochor, Federico and Staton Help You

Schochor, Federico and Staton’s surgical errors practice focuses on medical negligence during surgical procedures. Since our firm has been handling medical malpractice cases since our founding in 1984, we have a thorough understanding of how to build strong cases to help plaintiffs pursue the maximum compensation possible for injuries that are the result of surgical errors. We have filed more medical negligence cases than any other law firm in Maryland and have won more than $1 billion in settlements and verdicts.

Contact us online or call us today at 410-234-1000 to speak with one of our attorneys about your case. You pay nothing unless we make a recovery on your behalf.

Treatment

Additional surgery is often needed to correct a surgical error, and various therapies and treatments may be prescribed to address permanent disabilities.

Surgical errors often cause serious injuries, and it is crucial that you take conscious measures to prevent errors wherever possible. There are a variety of simple things you can do to prevent certain mistakes, including:

  • Thoroughly discussing the planned surgery with your doctor to understand the purpose and method of the operation
  • Making sure that your doctor initials your surgery site
  • Confirming your surgery site with your doctor immediately before your procedure
  • Training your friends or family members to confirm your surgery information with your doctor
  • Use a surgical error prevention checklist like the one found at CampaignZero to make sure you have taken all the steps necessary to prevent an unnecessary surgical error

Resources

Maryland Department of Disabilities
Johns Hopkins Health Library
CampaignZero – Delivers safety strategies to patients and their family-member advocates to prevent medical errors.
Institute for Safe Medicine Practice
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – Getting Safer Care
Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Information on eliminating surgical errors and improving physician-patient communication
Alliance For Safety Awareness For Patients – How to avoid surgical errors