Medical Malpractice

Surgical Errors

According to American Medical News, each year there are over 4,000 mistakes made during surgery that should never happen. These surgical errors are often called “never” events, as they never should have occurred. These events can include leaving surgical instruments behind in the patient, performing a wrong procedure, operating upon a wrong surgical site, or performing a surgery on the wrong patient. While the majority of the time the injury suffered is temporary, there are occasions when a patient is left with a permanent injury. In any case, these never events are unacceptable.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a surgical error caused by a medical professional, please contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. We offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation to those who have been injured needlessly by a medical professional. If necessary, we will obtain your medical records, and we will conduct the review necessary to determine whether or not we can help you.

Although wrong site surgery is rare, the results can be disastrous, and it never should happen. Any type of surgery can become a wrong site surgery. For some, these errors will result in death. Other wrong site surgery victims will suffer a lifetime of poor health or disability. Even for those who do not suffer significant physical harm, the psychological impact can mean avoiding life-saving surgery in the future.

COMMON TYPES OF WRONG SITE SURGERY INCLUDE:

  • Surgery on the wrong vertebral level of the spine
  • Wrong organ removed
  • Wrong limb amputated
  • Surgery on the wrong side of the body
  • Surgery on the correct site/wrong level or area (such as surgery on the correct hand, but the wrong finger)
  • Surgery on the wrong patient – can result in reversed procedures where two patients receive the wrong surgery

Surgical errors are preventable. Certain circumstances, such as emergency procedures, which create time pressures or patients having unusual physical characteristics, can contribute to the risk of wrong site surgery. Proper policies and procedures can significantly reduce risks.

COMMON MISTAKES AND CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO WRONG SITE SURGERY INCLUDE:

  • Poor pre-surgery planning
  • Inadequate patient assessment
  • Failure to observe “time out” before surgery
  • X-rays read backwards
  • Inadequate site marking procedures
  • More than one surgeon involved in a procedure
  • More than one procedure or surgical site involved in one surgical session
  • Poor communication between surgical team members
  • Time pressures
  • Failure to communicate with patient or patient’s family before surgery

Surgery on the wrong part of the body or the wrong patient can be devastating. Amputation of the wrong limb can mean the loss of both limbs and a lifetime of disability. Removal of the wrong internal organ can change the outcome from one of improved health to a lifetime of serious health problems and even death. At the very least, victims of wrong site surgery lose faith in health care providers and may avoid life-saving procedures in the future.

Although rare, some of the most tragic examples of medical malpractice involve patients who are paralyzed as result of preventable surgical spinal cord injury (SCI), which is spinal cord injury sustained during surgery. Each year, numerous individuals suffer life-altering and painful spinal cord injuries as a result of negligent care.

Spinal Cord Injuries usually cause severe swelling of the spinal cord from the location of the injury downward. As such, patients with spinal cord injuries to the upper part of the spinal column suffer from a greater loss of function and mobility, as more of their bodies are affected. Spinal cord injuries fall into two main categories:

  • Complete (Total) Spinal Cord Injuries – no functioning below the level of injury; or
  • Incomplete (Partial) Spinal Cord Injuries – some feeling and/or movement below the injury, but impaired.

Disabilities Associated With Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of spinal cord injuries can experience a wide range of health issues beyond a loss of mobility, including:

  • Quadriplegia
  • Paraplegia
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Loss of bladder/bowel control
  • Muscle spasms
  • Infections
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Ventilator dependence
  • Dependence on tube feeding
  • Depression/anxiety

Sometimes a piece of medical equipment, such as a tube, sponge, or surgical needle, is left unintentionally in a patient’s body after surgery. When a surgeon or medical professional leaves behind retained foreign bodies, also called retained surgical items, the patient is at a great risk for infection, illness, organ damage, and even death. Although medical professionals usually take great pains to eliminate the risk of retained foreign bodies, this safety measure can sometimes go overlooked.

The failure to remove a surgical instrument or other object after surgery is a serious event. The patient will almost always have to undergo another invasive surgery, with its own additional set of possible complications, in order to remove the retained foreign body.

Anesthesia Errors

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