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4 Common Surgical Errors

It makes sense to think that most surgical errors happen during very complex and difficult surgeries. On the contrary, it is usually the simple, quick surgeries that result in the most errors. This is could be due to overconfidence or lack of focus because of the monotonous tasks of a simple surgery. This type of surgery is referred to by researchers as “never events,” meaning these events should never happen, but surgical errors happen frequently. In a recent study, researchers found that paid malpractice settlements and judgments for these types of “never events” occurred about 10,000 times in the U.S. between 1990 and 2010. Their analysis estimates that each week surgeons:

  • Leave a foreign object like a sponge or towel inside a patient's body after an operation 39 times
  • Perform the wrong procedure on a patient 20 times
  • Operate on the wrong body site 20 times

Most people going into surgery are not those with rare diseases or in need of a heart transplant. Simple surgeries are much more common and it is important to know what sort of medical negligence you should be aware of. Below is a list of the most common surgical errors that lead to personal injury lawsuits for medical malpractice.

 Foreign Objects Left In Body

Okay, that’s freaky. Too often, surgeons and nurses rush through surgery and leave surgery supplies inside. It can be anything from gauze to a scalpel or even a clamp. If it goes unnoticed it can lead to infections and possibly death.

Wrong patient

There is no one explanation for how this happens. Possible reasons include improper paperwork or lack of focus in the patient room before surgery begins. In any case, the end result is a person with a completed surgery that in no way helps their health condition.

Wrong side

When surgery is performed on a body part, nurses mark the correct limb that needs to be worked on. In some cases, much like the “wrong patient” situation, paperwork or doctors feel too rushed or fall into a routine and forget to check, double check and triple check their work.

Anesthesia error

Anesthesiologists have a seemingly simple job that, in reality, is one of the key parts of any surgery. Administering incorrectly, whether it’s the amount or process of placing IV securely, can have the potential for nerve damage, eye damage, dental or oral trauma from intubation, allergic reactions, intraoperative awareness ("waking up" during surgery), and even death.

Whether you are the patient, the nurse, or the surgeon, it is imperative to make sure details are the main focus before, during and after surgery to avoid surgical errors. If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice in a surgery gone wrong, contact Colley & Colley law firm in Tyler, Texas, for a free consultation.