Common Reasons for Surgical Errors

Surgeons in an operating room

A surgeon’s experience and skill are very important elements when it comes to a successful surgery. Tasked with some of the most difficult and consequential work in the world, surgeons must always be cognizant of each detail and every factor that can affect the outcome of a surgery.

Unfortunately, not every surgeon upholds the standard of their profession. In an environment where the distance between life and death can be a centimeter or smaller, there’s not much room for error – especially mistakes that most other surgeons would avoid.

Patients who fall victim to such mistakes are victims of medical malpractice. They can needlessly suffer physically, emotionally, and financially as the result of a surgeon’s negligence. When this occurs, however, they may also have grounds to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit and seek compensation for damages they suffered.

Common Types of Surgical Errors

Before we discuss some of the reasons behind surgical errors, let’s establish what we mean by this term. A surgical error is a mistake a surgeon makes that causes the patient to suffer an injury or death. A surgical error is also one that could have been avoided through appropriate training, protocol, and execution of the procedure.

A few common surgical errors include the following:

  • Leaving instruments and other foreign objects in the patient
  • Performing an unnecessary surgery
  • Performing a surgery on an incorrect body part
  • Making anesthesia mistakes, such as giving too much or too little
  • Cutting a nearby organ or another part of the body by mistake
  • Failing to address possible side effects or complications before conducting the surgery
  • Failing to adequately explain the results of the surgery

Most surgeons are well trained to avoid these types of errors, but they happen more commonly than you’d think. According to a recent study, as many as 4,000 surgical errors may occur throughout the U.S. every year. Although the chances of suffering from such an error are still low, they also aren’t zero.

Why Do Surgeons Make Mistakes?

There are many reasons why surgeons make mistakes, and not all of them are due to negligent malpractice.

When it comes to medical malpractice law, we are most concerned with mistakes caused by negligence. This is because negligence implies that a surgeon wasn’t conducting themselves in accordance with the standards of their profession. In other words, capable surgeons in similar situations wouldn’t have made the same mistakes.

These are a few common reasons why surgical errors can occur:

  • Incompetence: Just because someone makes it through medical school and a residency to become a surgeon does it necessarily mean they are or will always remain a competent surgeon. Surgeons can be improperly trained, lack certain training, or forget their training. If a surgeon doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing in the operating room, that can spell disaster for their patient.
  • Substance Abuse: Showing up to work impaired by drugs or alcohol would be highly inappropriate at most any job, but a surgeon’s job is one of those where doing so can severely injure or kill someone else.
  • Fatigue: Surgeons work long hours – sometimes a single surgery can take up the better part of the day. An overworked surgeon can be a dangerous surgeon who’s prone to make negligent mistakes due to exhaustion.
  • Communication Error: A successful surgery is the culmination of all kinds of communication among doctors, patients, nurses, surgeons, and hospital staff. When communication breaks down, messages can get scrambled or never make it to their intended recipients. This can lead to mistakes caused by misinformation or a lack of information. If no one exercises care to ensure communication occurs before, during, and after surgery, negligence may have occurred.
  • Inadequate Staffing: Hospitals frequently suffer from staffing shortages, which means that there may be a lack of personnel to properly conduct the surgery. If an attempt is made in spite of inadequate staffing, and a surgical error occurs because of it, a patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Were You Injured by a Surgical Error?

Keep in mind that the lists above are not exhaustive. There are many different kinds of surgical errors that can occur and there are likely just as many reasons why they occur. In any case, you shouldn’t have to tolerate the consequences of a surgeon’s negligence.

If you were injured by a surgical error, you can pursue a recovery for damages with a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our legal team at the Law Office of David Kates can help by providing you with the legal support you need to take the next step forward with your claim. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

You can get in touch with the Law Office of David Kates by contacting us online now.