Surgical Malpractice / Surgical Errors

Surgical Errors and Surgical Negligence

Surgical errors and malpractice is unfortunately quite common.  A recent study has shown that about 4,000 times per year or approximately 80 times per week, a patient in the U.S. undergoing surgery is subjected to a mistake that should never happen.

These surgical errors include having the wrong surgical site operated on; the wrong surgical procedure performed; surgical instruments left inside the patient after the surgery; and a surgery performed on the wrong patient.  These types of mistakes should never happen, are completely preventable, and unnecessarily jeopardize the patient’s health.

Causes of Surgical Errors

  • Failure to mark the correct surgical site – best practices for surgery often include marking the proper location for the surgery on the patient’s skin with a marker prior to beginning the operation.  For example, if the patient is having surgery on their right shoulder, it would be advisable to circle the patient’s right shoulder as a precaution.  Often surgeons don’t take this simple step because they believe it is obvious or that they will remember which side to operate on when they are in the operating room.
  • Overworked/Tired – Many surgeons work long hours and perform surgeries at multiple facilities, commuting to and from these facilities.  When a surgeon is tired or fatigued he or she can be more prone to commit a surgical error.
  • Lack of experience – like any profession, surgeons bring a variety of ranges of experience to the operating table.  A young surgeon will have less experience than an older surgeon and lack of experience could lead to a mistake.  Or, an experienced surgeon, may decide to perform a surgery that he has never done before or performs infrequently.  When a surgeon does not have experience performing a particular surgery, mistakes can occur.
  • Mistakes – Other instances of surgical errors are simply attributable to plain negligence.  For example, a surgeon and her team may not perform a proper inventory of the number of sponges or clamps prior to surgery or do a proper accounting of the sponges and surgical equipment after the surgery.

How you can protect yourself from surgical errors

While a sedated patient is at the mercy of the surgeon’s skill and attention, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from surgical errors and surgeon malpractice.

  • Confirm the location of the surgical site – on the day of your surgery, confirm with your surgeon the location of the site and insist that he or she mark the site with a marker.
  • Confirm the procedure to be performed – on the day of the procedure, confirm with your surgeon the surgical procedure that will be performed on you that day.
  • Bring an advocate to the hospital – bring a family member or close friend to accompany you to the hospital for surgery.  This person can advocate on your behalf if you are sedated or groggy from anaesthesia.
  • Confirm your patient information on your consent form and other releases is correct – The day of your surgery, you will likely be provided releases and waivers to sign related to the procedure.  Don’t just blindly sign all of the documents the surgeon or his staff put in front of you, look through them.  Specifically, a lot of these forms will have the patient’s name and date of birth on them.  Confirm that you are listed as the patient and all of the information is correct on the forms.  This will decrease the chance that your medical file is confused with another patient’s and that you are mistakenly subjected to a surgery intended for another patient in the hospital.

Minnesota Surgery Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical error or surgical negligence, contact Minnesota Surgical Error Attorneys, Kuhlman Law, PLLC at (612) 349-2747 for a free consultation.  If we accept your case, we will help you to hold the surgeon accountable for his or her mistake and to help ensure that this does not happen again.

We will fight to get you the compensation that you are entitled to for your medical expenses, corrective surgery, loss of income, and the pain, suffering, and emotional harm that comes with being the victim of surgical malpractice.  We handle medical malpractice cases on a contingency fee basis which means you do not owe any attorney fees unless we recover for you.