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Common Surgical Errors and the Reasons They Occur

Hospitals increase revenues by shortening the time for surgical procedures and recovery. While there are practical reasons for this, it can also heighten the risk of surgical errors. Errors during surgery are among the most common forms of medical negligence. Surgical errors can result in patients having to undergo additional procedures to correct a surgeon’s error. The follow-up procedures may cause the patient to lose wages since they will be taking time off work. Patients who suffer harm at the hands of negligent hospital staff have the right to seek compensation.

Common Surgical Errors

Instruments Left Behind in the Patient

The problem of surgeons leaving their instruments in the patient’s body is common enough that some hospitals require an instrument count before and after surgical procedures, but not all require this step. One estimate from CBS News shows almost 800 surgical items left behind in patients over a six-year span. Instruments left inside the patient can cause serious infections requiring long hospital stays and can sometimes be fatal.

Surgery on the Wrong Body-Part

Instances where a surgeon removes the wrong organ or the wrong limb gets amputated are common, unfortunately. This kind of surgical error can have long-lasting health consequences for the patient, along with trauma.

Damaged Organs

A surgeon can accidentally puncture organs adjacent to the surgical site with a scalpel or scissors. While these injuries are often relatively minor, in many cases they can be serious and result in long-term pain and suffering for the patient.

Wrong Surgery

Surgeons have been known to operate on patients who did not need a particular procedure. Because of all the risks that come with any surgery, performing the wrong procedure on a patient unnecessarily exposes them to danger and can diminish their quality of life permanently if there are complications.

The Use of Unsanitary Surgical Items

Patients can lose limbs or organs as a result of having surgery performed on them using unsanitary instruments. Infections that can result include hepatitis, HIV, and syphilis.

Anesthesia Errors

The errors that involve anesthesia are the most dangerous form of surgical negligence and can cause the patient’s death or permanent injury. Patients can wake up during surgery because of being anesthetized incorrectly, but they can also suffer strokes or heart attacks because of the improper administration of an anesthetic.

The Reasons That Surgical Errors Occur

What all surgical errors have in common is that they are foreseeable and preventable. For example, they can occur because a surgeon lacks the necessary skills to perform a particular procedure or has not gotten adequate rest and is suffering from fatigue. A study from the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program found that fatigue increases surgeons’ risk of error by 22 percent.

Medical Malpractice Laws in Florida

In Florida, the Statute of Limitations gives a patient two years to file a lawsuit starting at the point that they discover their injury, or at the point that the injury should reasonably have been discovered. The law makes some exceptions, such as in cases where a doctor concealed or intentionally misrepresented the nature of the injury. In those cases, the law extends the limitations period by an additional two years from the point where the patient discovered the injury or would have discovered the injury had they exercised due diligence. The other exception is for minors who suffered the injury before age 8.

As a Boca Raton medical negligence lawyer with over 30 years of experience, Ronald M. Zakarin has the resources to investigate and litigate complex medical malpractice cases, including those involving surgical error. If you believe that you have suffered an injury because of a surgical error, contact us today.