What Are Examples of Surgical Errors?

Learn From Our Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer: What are Examples of Surgical Errors


While all surgeries carry some degree of risk due to unavoidable potential complications, there are complications that can be made due to a surgeons’ error. When you or a loved one undergo surgery, you depend on and trust the surgeon performing the surgery to repair the medical issue you are having the surgery for in a safe and effective manner. Unfortunately, some people undergo surgery and end up with serious complications, including death due to pure negligence on the part of the surgeon.  But there is a difference between reasonable risks of surgeries and normal complications, and gross medical malpractice.  This is why it is important to know what are examples of surgical errors due to medical malpractice.


Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers can help protect your rights after a surgery due to the negligence of a healthcare provider.  This includes on a baby during childbirth, a mother who passes away during labor and delivery, or a standard procedure that could even be elective.  Learn how our lawyers can help protect your rights to compensation in Oregon.


What Leads to Surgical Errors?


A surgical error could occur due to a multitude of reasons or lapses on the part of the surgeon. Here are a few reasons as to why a surgical could take place:


Fatigue: Many surgeons work far too many hours. When a surgeon works too many hours, this naturally results in fatigue. Most people know that when a person is tired, they are more likely to make mistakes and their reaction time is slower. When a person is very fatigued, their cognitive state may be compared to someone who is under the influence of alcohol. Working in the setting of extreme fatigue can lead to surgical errors, including wrongful death. 


Consumption of Drugs or Alcohol: Sometimes, like many other people, surgeons may either have an alcohol or drug dependency issue, or may make the mistake of having an alcoholic drink while on call. Unfortunately, this happens in operating rooms all over the world which can lead to deadly consequences. 


Lack of Experience or Incompetence: If a surgery is very complex or is not performed often, a surgeon may lack the ability to perform the surgery or anticipate possible complications that could occur. Additionally, if a surgeon is new or inexperienced (i.e. fellow or resident) and is not being monitored during the surgery, this increases the likelihood for there to be an error. 


Lack of Preoperative Planning: Surgeons should ensure that they effectively plan preoperatively for the procedure and for any possible complications that could occur. Failure to do so can result in unnecessary complications, or even wrongful death. 


Failure to Communicate: Often times there are multiple hands working on the patient at the same time. If communication does not occur between the individuals working on the patient, mistakes can occur (i.e an assumption is made that something is clamped off when it is in fact not). Additional communication errors can include marking the wrong site for surgery or miscommunication about a patient’s medication which can lead to error. 


Carelessness: Unfortunately, there are some surgeons and medical professionals out there that do not care about ensuring everything is done in the right and safest way for the patient. This can lead to serious harm to the patient (i.e. failure to sterilize instruments, using knowingly defective equipment on the patient). 


Most Common Surgical Errors


Anesthesia Errors: Administering too little or too much anesthesia can lead to serious adverse consequences, including wrongful death.


Incision Errors: If a wrong incision is made during a surgery, it can lead to internal bleeding. If the internal bleeding is not timely stopped, then it can prove to be fatal. Additionally, making an incision at the wrong location can prove to cause harm or death to the patient. 


Wrongful Amputation: In case a surgeon amputates the wrong limb or when a surgeon has removed a limb in cases where it was avoidable, then it can be classified as a surgical error. This type of error can have many physical and emotional consequences for the patient as if the wrong limb was amputated, the other limb will still need to be amputated; leaving the patient a double amputee. 


Operating on the Wrong Patient or Part: In any operating room, the team of surgeons and medical professionals are supposed to do a “time out”. This involves the entire surgical team stopping for a moment to verify it is the correct patient, correct body part and correct procedure being performed. If the surgeon fails to perform this step, they can end up operating on the wrong part, causing harm to the patient. Additionally, the patient will still need to undergo the surgery that was supposed to be performed.


Foreign Objects Left in Bodies: There has been a significant number of cases wherein surgeons have left foreign objects in the patient’s body during surgery. These foreign objects include small medical tools, sponges and other surgical debris, and leaving them inside the body can lead to infections, abscess, pain and organ perforations – hence needing correctional surgery to remove the foreign objects. The patient may require additional treatment including antibiotic therapy to treat the infection from the foreign body that was left inside them during the surgery. Unfortunately, this error is not always discovered immediately. It may take days, weeks, months or even years to identify that a foreign object was left inside the patient if there is a delay in exhibiting a problem due to a foreign body being forgotten inside the patient. One method of preventing such an error is counting the sponges and instruments prior to and after the surgery. This is to ensure that nothing is left inside the patient. Failure to count the tools and sponges, or miscounting the items can lead to a foreign body being left inside the body. 


Nerve Damage: While nerve damage can occur as an unavoidable complication, this type of error can occur as the result of a surgeon’s error. Nerve damage can cause a person to experience pain, impaired motor function and sensation, numbness or tingling, paralysis, seizures and deformities. 


The Cost of Surgical Errors is More Than Money


If a surgical error has been made by the surgeon or his/her staff, then you will likely need to undergo additional surgeries or medical treatment to correct the surgical error. As a result of this, you will likely endure more pain, complications and financial burden.


How Our Oregon Surgical Errors Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help You


While all surgeries carry risks with some being unavoidable, many errors can occur that are due to the mistake of the surgeon or other operating room staff. These kinds of mistakes should never happen as they are completely avoidable. If you or your loved one suffered a surgical complication that you believe to be made as a result of surgeon error, you should contact our lawyers today to determine if medical malpractice played a part in your surgical complication. If the surgical complication is due to medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation. Compensation for these types of errors include the following:


  • Past physical pain and suffering
  • Future physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional pain and suffering 
  • Past, present and future medical bills
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future wages
  • Rehabilitation coverage


Call our Law Firm For Help With Your Surgical Error Case in Oregon


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

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