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Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?

April 02, 2022
Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?

Errors can occur during surgery for a wide variety of reasons, often due to mistakes or carelessness by one or more members of the surgical team either prior to the surgery or during the procedure itself. 

What is a Surgical Error?

A surgical error can be broadly defined as any mistake during a surgical procedure that causes injury or medical harm to the patient and that is not a predicted risk of the procedure. Surgical errors normally are avoided through proper training, preparation, and execution of a surgical procedure. While complex, new, or rarely performed procedures have higher risks of surgical errors, mistakes can also occur during routine procedures, especially where surgical teams may be less focused due to the routine nature of the procedure. Examples of surgical errors can include:

  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Wrong patient/wrong-site error
  • Unplanned incision or damage of patient tissues
  • Leaving equipment inside of a patient
  • Failure to monitor a patient’s condition
  • Failure to communicate, including not alerting members of the surgical team to complications or patient distress
  • Failure to consult with other surgeons during complications
  • Performing a procedure with inadequate training or experience
  • Causing infections due to improper scrubbing and sterilization of equipment or the operating room, or improper care of the surgical site

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Some of the most common causes of surgical errors include:

  • Lack of training, experience, or skill with performing a particular surgical procedure
  • Insufficient planning, including not properly reviewing a patient’s medical history and current condition, not having necessary equipment on hand or ensuring that surgical tools and equipment have been properly sterilized, not preparing for potential complications that may arise during the procedure (including not having other specialists on call), and not communicating with the surgical team about what to anticipate during the surgery
  • Drowsiness or fatigue, as surgeons may work long shifts or some procedures can take hours to perform
  • Drug or alcohol intoxication, as members of a surgical team may come into the operating room while under the influence
  • Inadequate post-operative care, including failing to monitor for complications or infection, or not providing a patient with post-operative and post-discharge instructions

How an Attorney Can Help After a Surgical Error

If you have been injured by a surgical error, a medical malpractice attorney may be able to help you recover compensation from a negligent surgeon or surgical team by:

  • Investigating your treatment, including helping to recover your medical records and other evidence, and working with medical experts to explain how your medical providers’ treatment violated the standard of care
  • Documenting your expenses and losses that you have incurred due to injuries or harm that was caused by the surgical error
  • Identifying parties who can be held liable for your injuries and losses, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and hospitals or surgical centers
  • Filing your demands for compensation with the at-fault parties and pursuing a negotiated settlement to get you fair compensation as efficiently as possible
  • Taking your medical malpractice claim to court or trial if litigation becomes your best option for securing a financial recovery in your case

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Surgical Error Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh surgical error attorneys at Berger Lagnese & Paul, LLC are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout Pennsylvania, including Butler, Cranberry Township, Erie, and Greensburg. Call us today at (412) 471-4300 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 310 Grant St., #720, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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