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Surgical Errors: Types And What To Do If It Occurs

  • By: Patrick “Shea” Callahan, Esq.
  • Published: October 15, 2018

When a surgeon makes a preventable mistake during surgery, it is known as a surgical error. Medical professionals see surgical errors as never events, as they are events that should never happen during surgery.

A National Center for Biotechnology Information study shows that medical errors account for over 250,000 United States fatalities each year. Of these medical errors, surgical errors make up a large percentage. What types of surgical errors can occur and what do you do if it happens?

Types Of Errors

There are many errors that medical professionals can make in the medical field that warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis as well as medication errors all occur, but surgical errors happen frequently, and the consequences can be severe. Types of surgical errors include:

  • Wrong site: When a doctor performs a surgery, for example on the left leg instead of the right, it is known as a wrong site surgery. This can be devastating for the patient, as the doctor created a new injury instead of treating an existing one.
  • Wrong patient: An event that should never occur, performing surgery on the wrong patient happens more than one might think. If an individual receives a surgery that they were not supposed to have, the results could be catastrophic.
  • Object left in body: While it may seem bizarre, surgeons have left objects in a patient’s body during surgery. Doctors can miss items such as gauze or medical equipment during closing, but if left in the body it can do serious damage to the patient.
  • Wrong procedure: There are many reasons why a medical professional could perform the wrong procedure on a patient, but most end in a patient receiving more harm than help.
  • Anesthesia error: Administering and monitoring a patient’s anesthesia during surgery is an important job. If not done properly, a patient can face serious damages to organs such as the brain or heart.

What To Do After It Occurs

If a medical professional injured you during surgery, you may be able to receive compensation. To prove medical malpractice, one must prove that there was a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor acted negligently, and the negligence resulted in injury. If you can prove these things, you may be able to receive compensation for injuries, lost wages and/or pain and suffering.

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