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Surgical Errors

Surgical Errors which may lead to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

When a patient undergoes surgery, the surgeon and their medical staff must follow a surgical procedure to make sure the operation goes without incident, injury,  or risk of infection to the patient.  If the procedure doesn’t go as followed, or there are mistakes made during surgery which would not occur under normal conditions, then it is considered a surgical error.

A surgical error happens when there is a mistake while the surgeon is performing surgery.  This may happen for a number of reasons and may not only be the fault of the doctor, but the medical staff as well. Surgical errors account for about a quarter of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Seriousness of Surgical Errors and How it affects Patients

Surgical errors leading to medical malpracticeNot all surgical errors are severe enough to bring about a medical malpractice case. If the patient was not harmed by the error during surgery, then there is no malpractice.

However, if the surgical error falls below the medical standard of care, where under normal circumstances the same error would not have occurred, then there may be grounds for a medical malpractice case.

According to a study from surgeryjournal.com which examined 444 medical malpractice claims from 4 different insurance groups, 58% or more than half of the claims involved a serious or major injury due to surgical error.


Of the 258 surgical errors that were serious:

  •  30 of the claims involved a serious injury
  • 168 of the claims involved catastrophic injuries
  •  60 of the claims involved death of the patient.

Leading causes of Surgical Errors

There are five leading causes as to why surgical errors happen.

  • Surgeon was Incompetent – The Doctor performing the surgery may not have had enough training, experience, or they lacked the skill set to perform the surgery without incident.
  • Mistakes during preparation – Medical staff may not have checked all equipment before surgery, or the surgical team may not be prepared for complications due to surgical procedure.
  • Failure to Follow Procedures – Each step during the surgical process is necessary to ensure patient safety. If the doctor or staff skips necessary steps, it may lead to a serious or catastrophic injury.
  • Failure to Communicate – If the surgeon or their team fail to communicate and orders are missed or directions aren’t followed, it may have serious consequences for the patient during surgery.
  • Human Error – Doctors are known for working many hours, and depending on the type of surgery, the procedure may go on for several hours. If the doctor loses focus during surgery, has not had enough rest, or outright makes a mistake during the operation it could affect the patient.

Surgical Errors that are most likely to occur 

A study was released by the Joint Commission that documented 2,930 surgical errors between 2004 and 2014.

The commission found that:

  • 1,071 Errors involved wrong site surgery or wrong surgery performed
  • 932    Errors involved foreign objects left inside the patient after surgery
  • 823    Errors involved complications during surgery or afterwards
  • 104    Errors involved anesthesia errors which affected the patient.

Have you or a loved one been the victim of surgical error? 

The Abbott Law Group, P.A. has over 30 years of experience which includes handling medical malpractice cases that involve surgical error.  If your health or life has been seriously impacted due to a surgical error, you should call us right away for a free consultation.

Our team consists of trial lawyers and legal nurses who can evaluate all events and medical documents occurred during the surgical error to see if you have a case.  Call us today for a free consultation.