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Common Surgical Errors

By: The Igwe Firm
January 31, 2019

Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at The Igwe Firm help clients injured due to surgical errorsLife-saving surgery is an important and vital part of medical practice. Unfortunately, sometimes surgeries and/or their aftercare do more harm than good.

You may think that the most complex surgeries are the ones with the most errors, but this is not necessarily the case. Surgical errors can happen during the most routinely performed operations or procedures.

The outcomes of surgery are not guaranteed. Accordingly, before surgery can be performed on a patient, the patient must be informed of the known risks associated with the surgery. The patient will be asked to sign an informed consent form agreeing to the surgery while knowing of the potential risks.

Informed consent does not mean the patient must live with consequences of surgical error without recourse. It means that some risks cannot be entirely prevented, even when surgery is performed competently.

Complications Differ from Surgical Errors

The difference between normal complications and surgical error/medical malpractice is whether or not sufficient care was exercised by the medical staff to avoid injuring the patient during surgery or post-operative care. The medical “standard of care” that must be met is the type and level of care an ordinary and prudent health care professional, having the same training and experience, would provide under similar circumstances in the same community.

Common Surgical Errors That Have Occurred Include:

  • Leaving a foreign object, such as a scalpel, clamp, or gauze, in the patient
  • Performing the wrong surgery on a patient
  • Performing surgery on the wrong part of the body
  • Cutting or damaging nerves or other organs

There are a number of reasons for why surgical errors happen. Examples include:

  • Incompetence: Not all surgeons are trained and experienced to perform all procedures. A surgeon must have adequate knowledge and skills to perform every surgery they attempt.
  • Fatigue: Surgeons should be rested enough to perform the surgery with focused attention. Scheduling too many surgeries in a day can result in mistakes caused by fatigue that would otherwise not occur.
  • Neglect: Surgeons who are well rested and possess the necessary skills and experience may still fail to take necessary steps to assure successful surgery. For example, using a medical device that has been recalled or using equipment that has not been properly sterilized are examples of neglect.

Recourse in the Event of Surgical Error

A patient may have a claim against a medical professional and/or hospital for surgical errors, or errors in post-surgical care, if a preventable mistake during the surgery resulted in financial or other damages to the patient. Even if the patient ultimately recovers, they may still be entitled to compensation.

Most states impose a time limit on filing medical malpractice claims. In Pennsylvania, a patient has two years from the time when the patient discovers, or reasonably should have discovered that the injury occurred, to file a claim.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Igwe Firm Help Clients Injured Due to Surgical Errors

We understand medical jargon and the accepted medical standard of care. We work closely with doctors to gather and analyze important evidence in support of medical malpractice claims. Contact the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at The Igwe Firm at 215-278-9898 or complete our online form today to receive a free initial consultation. Our office located in Philadelphia serves clients throughout Pennsylvania.

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