Although many surgical procedures are necessary, surgery can lead to unexpected injuries. When a physician, nurse, or other healthcare provider commits an error during a surgical procedure, this can result in medical malpractice. Surgical mistakes that result in injuries to a patient can often be prevented if the physicians and nursing staff take all necessary precautions prior to and during the surgical procedure.
Every year, thousands of patients suffer injuries from surgical mistakes. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a study entitled “To Err is Human,” in which the researchers reported that up to 98,000 people die each year from mistakes in hospitals. While not all of these errors were purely surgical errors, the sheer volume of deaths due to mistakes in hospitals is astounding. A later study completed in 2013, and published in the Journal of Patient Safety, found that as many as 440,000 patients who are treated in hospitals each year are the victims of some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death
Causes of Surgical Errors
The causes of surgical errors can by simple or complex. Surgical errors can occur for many reasons, but commonly occur from one or a combination of the following:
- Incompetence of the physician or nursing staff
- Failures in communication between medical staff and physicians
- Drug or alcohol abuse by the healthcare provider
- Fatigue of the surgeon
- Neglect by the surgeon
Surgical Errors that may be Medical Malpractice
The types of surgical errors leading to injuries that may be medical malpractice include:
- Operating on the wrong body party
- Making incisions at the wrong surgical site
- Leaving a foreign body (such as a sponge or medical instrument) in a patient’s body
- Cutting, burning, or otherwise injuring other body parts
- Injuring nerves during a surgical procedure
- Anesthesia errors, such as administering too much or too little anesthesia
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Failing to obtain informed consent for an invasive surgical procedure
- Poor post-operative care and monitoring
Take action today.
Many times, patients do not even know that they have been the victims of a surgical mistake until years later, or when the mistake manifests in other ways. Because a patient’s right to bring a lawsuit based on a surgical error is limited in time, once a potential surgical error is uncovered, it is extremely important to contact an experience medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Know your rights. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical error, call the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Powers Taylor for a free consultation. All calls are confidential.