Surgical Errors

At some point in our lives we are guaranteed to have some kind of surgical procedure. Whether this procedure is performed in the hospital or as an outpatient, there are inherent risks involved. Almost every procedure performed has a risk of a reaction to the anesthesia, infection, heart complication and healing complications. However, most people do not think about something happening to them during the procedure since we are programmed to put our faith and trust in our doctors. Having the feeling that our doctors are competent and experienced enough to perform our procedures are usually why people don’t dwell on the bad happening.

Unfortunately, we cannot completely know one hundred percent t that nothing will happen to us during a procedure, all we have is our trust that we are in good hands. It is not uncommon for surgical errors to occur and thousands of people every year are injured due to surgical and medical errors and in worse cases, even lose their lives.

Medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to take the correct safety measures and out of negligence or just plain inexperience, harms the patient they were trying to help. Shockingly, there are over 80 million people worldwide who are killed by surgical errors each year.

What Causes a Surgical Error?

Surgical errors can occur for many reasons. One common reason is neglecting to get a complete history of a patient. A doctor should have not only the patient history but also their current medical treatments such as if they are taking medications, if they smoke or drink, or if they have family history of complications. Knowing this information will insure that the doctor has the knowledge of the patient needed to proceed with proper treatment.

Procedural Errors

A vast majority of surgical errors happen during the actual procedure itself. The most common of errors occurs with the anesthesia that is used to put the patient under. This is a serious risk as the misuse of atheistic can cause brain damage, coma, cardiovascular issues and even death.

There are many ways a procedure could go wrong; the doctor could use surgical equipment that is not properly sterilized and this could result in a major life threatening infection. There have also been occurrences where a surgical tool or sponge was left inside a patient during the initial operation causing serious infections and even death all due to the negligence of the doctor.

Perforations of organs near the procedural site have also been cited as a huge surgical error. So many things can happen during an operation; even the most minimal procedure runs the risk of something going wrong. If a doctor is inexperienced or just plan careless, an error can occur.

Perhaps the most common malpractice suits are the wrong site surgery cases. This surgical error is when the doctor operates on the wrong part of the person’s body, or worse yet, on the wrong person all together. There have been reports of wrong site operations totalling up to 60 to 70 cases a year.

Post-operative injuries can also be classified as surgical error. If a patient isn’t properly taken care of after surgery, infection, shock and other serious complications can occur.

The most common surgeries or procedure where surgical negligence is prevalent are during childbirth, gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic or intestinal surgeries and cosmetic surgeries.

Cosmetic errors are on the rise since these procedures are becoming more and more popular. The error that is most common with cosmetic procedures tends to relate to the anesthesia and poor patient medical histories.


While most of these errors are not in the patient’s control, it is important to take safety precautions when you are planning on having a procedure done. Discuss the entire procedure, pros and cons, with your doctors and get information on what risks are involved in your particular surgery. Make sure that when speaking to the doctor that he understands what needs to be done and to what part of the body he will perform the procedure on. You would be surprised how often a doctor can make a mistake such as whether it’s the right or left leg they are operating on. A great way to make sure the right part of the body is being operated on is by asking the doctor to mark the area with a marker before you go in for the procedure. You may feel silly asking the doctor to do this but this is a great way to know for sure that the procedure will take place on the right part of your body.

There is such a thing as a “Universal Protocol�? which was developed by the Joint Commission. They implemented the use of check lists to determine what part of the body was going to be operated on, this was specifically developed to cut down on the amount of surgical errors that happens in hospitals.

After a procedure, be sure to ask to see your medical records to view what took place so if you do have issues with recovery or think that a surgical error may have occurred, you can discuss this with your doctor immediately.

If for any reason your doctor will not speak to you about a suspicion of malpractice, contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately and be sure to show them a copy of your records medical records. A medical malpractice attorney will be able to fight for your rights and help you reap compensation for any errors that may have occurred.