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Surgical Errors: What are They?

Picture an example of medical malpractice. There’s a good chance you imagined something like a medical tool left in someone’s body during surgery. That’s no coincidence. Surgical errors tend to be some of the most severe and most dangerous types of medical malpractice. But what exactly constitutes a surgical error?

What Are Surgical Errors?

A surgical error means that a doctor did not maintain their standard of care during surgery and, as a direct result, someone suffered serious injuries. As you might expect, this can cover a wide range of incidents and isn’t exclusive to doctors making incisions. Surgical errors can also include anesthetic errors or even operating on the wrong patient.

Keep in mind that “medical malpractice” is a specific kind of claim and typically requires that the patient suffers specific damages (such as serious injury, emotional trauma, lost wages, past and future medical bills, or hospitalization) because of a doctor’s negligence.

Common Examples of Surgical Errors

As a patient, you must be able to identify specific examples of surgical error and medical negligence so you can pursue damages for your injuries. Here are a few of the most common types of surgical errors we see.

Incorrect Patient

If you’ve been to a hospital recently, you may have noticed nurses confirming your name and birthdate each time they enter the room. This is to prevent staff from administering care to the wrong patient.

Yet errors are still made, despite this system; occasionally a patient receives surgery meant for someone else. In the best of circumstances, a doctor might stop when they realize something’s wrong. In other situations, they may install an unwanted implant that requires another surgery to remove.

In either case, this surgical error can result in serious injuries, an extended recovery, anxiety about the next surgery, and you’ll likely need to schedule a date and take time off for the correct procedure.

Not Accounting for Medical History

Your medical history determines how doctors will go about surgery. For example, if you have high blood pressure, you’re more likely to have complications from the surgery and anesthesia.

Doctors need to account for your complete medical record, including family history, allergies, and past surgeries, and then make changes to their care plan as needed. If you suffer injuries, such as a severe allergic reaction, because the doctor didn’t account for your history, you should consult a medical malpractice attorney about your case.

Anesthetic Error

Anesthetic errors are surprisingly common, with an estimated 1.5 million cases per year. Many of these errors are called “syringe swap.”

Imagine an anesthesiologist with two syringes in his coat. One is a sedative, and the other counteracts it. The doctor injects a syringe into your IV after surgery but didn’t check the label. You’re out for hours longer than you need to be and potentially face anesthetic-related complications.

Anesthetic errors may result in minor injuries, but overdose, failure to account for allergies, or other errors can cause a coma or even death.

Misplaced Tools

This is what most people think of when they imagine surgical errors. A doctor is closing up and they forget to remove a clamp or a sponge. Months or even years later, you have sharp pain and are horrified to discover medical tools left inside you.

This condition is exceptionally frightening because it likely means scheduling another surgery and undergoing anesthetics to remove to object. Not only can this cause serious injuries, it increases the likelihood of other errors and can cause you to miss work and suffer lost wages during your recovery.

Seeking Justice for Surgical Errors

Upon discovering a surgical error occurred, patients typically have two years to file a medical malpractice claim with the courts. However, remember that medical malpractice cases aren’t easy and the hospital will very likely have a team of attorneys prepared to defend their doctors.

If you’re in pain due to a surgical error, handling paperwork is the last thing you want to do. When you hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney, they’ll handle everything on your behalf while you focus on getting better.

If you or someone you love suffered damages from a surgical error, we can help. If you’d like an experienced Florida personal injury attorney from Gunn Law Group P.A. to evaluate your case, call (813) 993-1448 or send us an email.