Surgical Errors

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We don’t want to think about something going wrong during surgery. Even the most routine procedures can be frightening because all surgeries include an inherent chance of risk. However, if you are injured due to a surgeon’s careless mistake, you may have grounds to sue for medical malpractice.

Six Common Surgical Errors

Medical technology is extraordinarily advanced, and the educational requirements to practice surgery are extensive, so the chance of error during surgery is relatively small. Nevertheless, humans are prone to making mistakes. The following six errors are examples of the kinds of injuries that can appear in surgical malpractice cases.

Anesthesia Errors

Mistakes by anesthesiologists can be very serious. Anesthesiologists need to make sure they have all of the information they need about a patient before they undergo surgery, including their medical history and any allergies. Too much anesthesia can hinder the patient’s ability to circulate oxygen throughout the body, leading to brain damage, while not enough anesthesia can lead the patient to awaken prematurely.

Leaving Tools Inside of a Patient

It sounds unlikely and terrifying, but surgeons have left tools such as scalpels, pads, gauze, and clamps inside of the bodies of patients following a surgical procedure. Such a terrible mistake can result in infections, pain, or even death.

Nerve or Organ Damage

In a surgeon’s attempt to cure a patient, a mistake could cause an entirely new complication. A slipped scalpel could hit a nerve or puncture a neighboring organ, which could lead to serious, permanent, and potentially lethal damage. Incorrect incisions or unsteady operating hands can also result in unintended nerve or organ damage.

Mistakes in Operating Procedures

Although relatively rare, the idea of a surgeon operating on the wrong body part or the incorrect side—or even on the wrong patient—is terrifying. Undergoing surgery on the wrong limb or having a procedure that was meant for another patient should never happen and can, obviously, cause serious health problems or death. All members of the surgical team and medical staff are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate surgery is taking place on the correct patient.

Post-Surgical Infections

After surgery, patients are typically weakened, leaving them particularly vulnerable to infections that could lead to further illness. This vulnerability is especially present in patients whose immune systems have already been compromised. A negligent hospital staff could be using unsanitary equipment, leaving the patient prone to infection. It’s the responsibility of the surgical team and the hospital to make sure that operating environments are safe for patients.

Negligent Post-Operative Care

Post-operative care is important in making sure that recovery goes smoothly and a patient can get on the road to being healthy again. Doctors have a responsibility to make sure that patients aren’t prematurely discharged. They must also follow up with patients after they get home to make sure that further complications are avoided. If medical care providers fail to do so, they could be accused of acting negligently.

Why Surgical Errors Happen

Surgical mistakes happen when healthcare professionals don’t pay close enough attention to patients or their needs or simply fail to meet the expected standard of care. Negligence can take a variety of forms, but in the case of malpractice, it all comes back to inattention that results in what is often a single devastating moment for the patient.

Surgical errors can come down to a variety of causes:

  • Doctor incompetence, inexperience, or carelessness
  • Lack of planning, cleaning, or preparation before the procedure
  • Poor work procedures or straying from protocol
  • Miscommunication in the operating room
  • Practicing while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol

It’s important to remember that doctors are just regular people with special education and training. Regular people make mistakes. It’s unfortunate, and most doctors and hospitals take great care to prevent or immediately correct errors, but mistakes happen.

Preventing Surgical Errors

Surgeons and other medical staff can reduce the risk of common surgical errors simply by practicing due diligence. Many of these surgical errors can be prevented by implementing safeguards, including additional staff and additional equipment checks, or increasing training.

However, not all surgical mistakes or accidents can be prevented. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether your surgical injury was caused by negligence or whether the incident was merely circumstantial.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a surgical error, you are urged to contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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