Each year thousands of surgeries are performed in the United States. Most of them go as planned but some go horribly wrong due to medical malpractice, medical negligence, errors and mistakes on the part of the surgeons. It has been reported that nearly 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical mistakes and errors including surgical errors. A person undergoing surgery, however, does not typically anticipate surgical complications. The patient reasonably believes that the surgeon and medical team performing the procedure are competent, experienced, and prudent enough to perform the surgery without committing surgical errors. Surgical mistakes and errors include errors committed by the surgeon, anesthesiologist, or hospital nursing personnel. Surgery errors can result in injuries far beyond any anticipated possible outcome. A surgical negligence can result in pain, repeating the surgery, scarring, and sometimes wrongful death.
Common types of wrong site surgery include:
- Wrong-site surgery – operating in the wrong area of the body.
- Wrong organ removed
- Wrong limb amputated
- Surgery on the wrong side of the body
- Surgery on the wrong vertebral level of the spine
- Surgery on the correct site/wrong level or area (such as surgery on the correct hand, but the wrong finger)
- Wrong surgical procedure – this can include removing the wrong part of the body, such as limbs, organs, and tissue.
- Surgical instrument left in the body – retractors, sponges, and surgical towels can all be left in the body. This generally happens due to negligence on the part of the surgeon and the hospital staff.
A surgical error can also result from inadequate sanitation and the use of dirty instruments. Failure to follow proper sanitation procedures can lead to the spread of infection from one patient or instrument to another, resulting in sometimes serious, life-threatening injuries and a very painful, prolonged recovery time. Problems with post-operative care also fall under the heading of surgical malpractice. Failure to provide proper post-operative care can cause pain and may require another surgery. Surgery malpractice can leave a patient with permanent complications including brain damage, paralysis, coma, nerve damage, organ damage, blood clots and infections. At times surgical errors can also be fatal.
The common causes of surgical errors are poor pre-operative planning, procedural errors and post operative injuries. Medical practitioners despite their good intentions, skill and training, may and do commit mistakes. But the medical profession demands that medical practitioners to be attentive, competent, and careful in administering their services. The lives of people are at stake. Surgical errors are a result of the failure to exercise the necessary care. A victim of surgery malpractice can file a lawsuit for compensation for the suffering and pain caused by the surgical error. Each state has its own law on surgical errors. If the surgical mistake proves fatal, the survivors of the victim can file a claim for wrongful death.
If you suspect you are a medical malpractice victim for any reason, it is recommended that you seek legal advice immediately.