Medical Malpractice: Common Causes of Surgical Errors
We hold the medical profession to a high standard of care, especially for doctors who perform life-saving surgeries. However, not all surgeons give their jobs the level of care expected and required of them. While surgical errors are almost always preventable, mistakes do happen, and as a result, medical establishments require you to sign a form stating that you know surgery has known risks – informed consent. However, when the surgical error is entirely unexpected and falls outside these known risks, it may constitute medical malpractice.
Not all surgical errors result in death, thankfully. But while some patients might recover from a surgical error, others are often left with long-term or permanent disabilities. The Nail Law Firm represents those who suffered injuries or death from surgical errors caused by medical negligence.
Common Surgical Errors
After a surgical error, you might need additional surgery. You might lose a loved one. And you might be left with permanent disabilities. If the evidence points to negligence on the surgeon’s part – or on the part of a medical professional assisting in the surgery, like an anesthesiologist – you could recover damages, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Common surgical errors include:
- Operating on the wrong body part is known as wrong-site surgery.
- Leaving instruments and other foreign objects inside the patient.
- Cutting internal organs or the aorta by mistake.
- Anesthesia mistakes, including not verifying allergies or using too much anesthesia.
- Failing to address surgery complications after surgery.
- Failing to prep the patient, operating room, and medical personnel in the operating room properly.
- Operating on the wrong patient.
Any of these mistakes can kill or maim a patient for life. Even if doctors perform additional surgery to repair the error, it could still leave you with life-long issues, including brain injuries, paralysis, nerve damage, or other complications.
Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?
Not all surgical mistakes happen because of medical malpractice. Sometimes, a mistake is just that – a mistake. You must prove that the surgeon’s actions or inactions were negligent to recover damages.
Negligent reasons for medical malpractice include:
Incompetence: The surgeon or assisting doctors and other medical professionals are incompetent. These professionals must have the training to handle the surgery or to assist the surgeon. Incompetent medical professionals should not perform or assist in the surgery. Medical professionals often overestimate their abilities.
Drugs / Alcohol: The surgical profession is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. As much as medical professionals know that using drugs or alcohol is not only forbidden when on duty, some do use it before performing surgery. In some cases, the surgeon might not have used it immediately before the surgery but still suffers from the effects of the substance use hours or even a day before the surgery.
Poor Pre-op Training: If the surgeon and assistants do not review the case, prepare for complications, ensure that all equipment is available, and take other steps to ensure the surgery goes well, their actions might be deemed negligent.
Fatigue: Surgeons often work long shifts. In fact, this is more than the norm than not. This results in fatigue and a higher risk of surgical errors.
Insufficient Staffing: If the surgeon does not have enough support staff in the operating room, those that are there could be overworked. Often, overworked nurses fail to check on a patient or forget post-op care. Staffing errors could harm you before and after surgery.
Taking Shortcuts: Sometimes, a surgeon believes some steps are unnecessary during surgery. Taking shortcuts often results in costly errors.
Communication Errors: Oral and written communication is essential in the medical profession. If a medical professional doesn’t document something, it could cause surgical and other errors. Communication errors lead to medication errors, anesthesia errors, surgical errors, and even misdiagnoses.
Neglect: A surgeon should be careful when performing surgery to avoid causing irreparable harm. For example, not sanitizing surgical instruments or knowingly using defective equipment could cause costly errors.
Medication Errors: The wrong medication or an incorrect dosage of the correct medicine could affect surgery if a medical professional fails to catch the mistake.
These are just a few common factors that could cause medical errors. If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one due to surgical mistakes, contact a medical malpractice lawyer at The Nail Law Firm for a free case evaluation as soon as possible.