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When a patient seeks or requires a surgical procedure, they are typically informed about the inherent risks associated with any surgical procedure. Virtually all surgeries carry a very small risk of anesthesia reactions, blood clots, infection, cardiovascular complications, and healing complications. Patients who undergo surgery, however, do not typically anticipate surgical errors. Surgical patients reasonably believe that the surgeon and medical team performing the procedure are competent, experienced, and prudent enough to perform the surgery without committing surgical errors.
Unfortunately, surgical errors are not as uncommon as many would like to believe. Thousands of people are injured every year by surgical errors related to medical negligence. Medical negligence, or malpractice, involves a medical professional's failure to exercise the skill, care, and prudence necessary to prevent causing a patient injury or illness. Surgical errors are some of the most shocking and devastating of all medical mistakes.
Causes of Surgical Errors
Poor Pre-Operative Planning
Surgical errors may be traced to poor pre-operative planning or care. Prior to surgery, a doctor should fully evaluate a patient's current health and medical history, use of medications, relevant lifestyle choices (i.e. smoking, alcohol use), and their family history. Surgeons performing elective surgery (cosmetic procedures) should also have a thorough understanding of the patient's aesthetic goals. A surgeon should make sure that the procedure planned is safe, appropriate, and in the best interest of the patient. The surgeon planning to perform the surgery should be competent and experienced enough to ensure that there is a negligible risk of surgical errors.
Errors During A Procedure
A majority of surgical errors occur during the procedure itself. Surgical errors involving anesthesia are often life threatening, posing the risk of permanent brain damage, asphyxia, coma, organ damage, cardiovascular problems, and death. Incorrect incisions, the use of un-sterile equipment, damage (i.e. puncture or perforation) to nearby organs, nerve damage, and prolonged surgery are examples of the most common devastating surgical errors made by negligent, careless, or inexperienced medical professionals.
Some cases of medical malpractice involve surgical instruments or sponges being left in a patient to cause serious post-operative damage. Between 60 and 70 cases of wrong site surgery are reported every year. One of the most drastic of surgical errors, wrong site surgery involves operating on the wrong part of a patient or the wrong patient altogether.
Surgical errors can also occur in the post-operative phase. Substandard aftercare can lead to infection, septic shock, delayed healing, and other life threatening medical consequences.
Contact An Attorney Near You
While surgical errors can be made during any procedure, they are more likely during gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic procedures, plastic surgery, and obstetric procedures. If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury caused by surgical errors, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your case to determine your legal rights and options.
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