Patient's injured leg on hospital bed

5 Types of Surgical Errors that Can Result in a Medical Malpractice Case

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We trust our doctors and surgeons with our lives, expecting the operation to be completed correctly. However, the unthinkable can happen. Thousands of people are injured by surgical errors each year, and many may not realize that they are eligible to file a malpractice suit to seek compensatory damages.

If you or a loved one has suffered from one of these five surgical errors, contact a Las Vegas medical malpractice lawyer today before the statute of limitations to file expires.

The Main Causes of Surgical Errors

Surgical errors can happen for many reasons. Chief among them are:

  • Incompetence and inadequate skills and training to perform the operation
  • Insufficient planning, including sterilizing and inspecting all instruments
  • A fatigued or stressed medical team 
  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Miscommunication about the procedure or the body part undergoing surgery
  • Poor sanitation

Human error plays a role, too. The surgeon could make a mistake, the anesthesiologist or nurses responsible for monitoring your vital signs could get distracted, or another form of oversight could place you in danger.

The 5 Most Common Types of Surgical Errors

There is a wide range of surgical errors, some unique to the type of surgery performed, such as an amputation on the incorrect side of the body. Other kinds of errors, like those arising from unsanitary conditions, may happen in the most routine procedure or complex, multi-step operations.

1. Operating on the Incorrect Body Part

Operating on the wrong body part results in unnecessary surgery and potentially permanent damage to the body, such as in the case of amputation. The patient will have to have another surgery to correct their initial complaint, and so will be subjected to twice the recovery time, scarring, pain, and time missed from work to heal.

2. Accidentally Performed Incisions

An accidental incision may occur in similar circumstances to operating on the wrong part of the body, but in these cases, the mistake is noticed sooner rather than later. In other cases, the doctor may have made an initial incision, realized that it wasn’t close enough, and so made another to correct it. Still, the patient will have more pain and healing and additional scar.

3. Conducting the Wrong Procedure

Miscommunication about the procedure and misdiagnosing the patient are two main reasons doctors perform the wrong procedure. They might mix up surgeries scheduled for the same day or misinterpret a patient’s symptoms in such a way that results in unnecessary surgery. 

4. Foreign Objects or Surgical Instruments Left in the Body

It’s not uncommon for a surgical instrument or another item, like a sponge or cotton pad, to be left behind after suturing the incisions. This can cause serious pain and often infection or sepsis. The patient will have to go through the trauma of another surgical procedure to remove the item.

5. Complications from Anesthesia

An anesthesiologist should be on hand throughout the procedure to monitor the patient’s vital signs. Unfortunately, negligence or oversight can cause the nurse or anesthesiologist to give a patient too much or too little medication. 

Or, oversight of a patient’s allergies or other potential drug interactions could cause them to have a serious reaction to the anesthesia or other medications.

Your Options if a Surgical Error Has Harmed You

If you or a loved one has been harmed due to a surgical error, you may be able to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice to collect damages for your pain and suffering, additional medical costs, and any treatment you require to heal and recover. A medical malpractice lawyer with Hunt Law can give you legal options. Give us a call today.