A surgeon is successful in removing a patient’s left leg. There’s just one problem; it was the right leg that was diseased. A man had to undergo a second surgery after a catheter had been left inside him during the first operation. Those are just two examples of what anyone undergoing an operation might secretly fear – a surgery error. Although Americans regard the U.S. medical system as the best in the world, mistakes do occur. In fact, about 4,000 surgery errors take place in the United States very year – and sometimes very close to home. For example, a surgeon in St. Petersburg operated on a woman’s middle finger instead of the ring finger with the problem. A surgeon in Tampa removed the wrong foot of man. Medical malpractice suits followed, but the errors can’t be repaired.
Types of Surgery Mistakes
- Pre-op mistake. The patient was actually a poor candidate for surgery or the condition could have been better treated by another means.
- Surgery on the wrong patient. Jane Brown had her gallbladder removed instead of Jean Brown, who was the one with gallstones. Similarity in names sometimes causes problems in the hospital.
- Surgery in the wrong area. A man’s left knee was repaired, but the injury was on the right knee.
- Surgical instruments, such as a catheter, are left in the body.
- Post-operative errors. Incorrect care harms a patient.
Is a Surgery Error Medical Malpractice?
No one wants surgery and definitely not surgery with a mistake. However, if an error in surgery does happen, is that a charge of medical malpractice? The answer is: Not necessarily. Even if a mistake in surgery does occur, if you were not harmed by it, then there is no medical malpractice. In most surgery errors cases, it is fairly easy to show that the expected standard of medical care was not followed. However, if you were not harmed because of it, there is no charge of surgery error.
What Causes Surgery Errors?
A common phrase is “Everybody makes a mistake.” For anyone who has been a victim of surgery error, it is a very personal and unique mistake. However, in general
there are some common reasons for errors in surgery:
- Poor pre-op plans. This can include improper preparation by the surgeon as
well as improper preparation by the nurses and other attendants.
- Poor surgery plans. A surgeon may regard certain procedures during surgery as unnecessary, but omitting them may cause harm to the patient.
- Incompetent surgeons. The surgeon may not be skilled in the procedure or may not have performed it many times.
- Fatigue. Long hours often tire a surgeon, which result in mistakes.
- Neglect. Fatigue can also result in a surgeon’s negligence when it comes to insuring all procedures during the operation meet the highest standards.
Anyone who has been the victim – or even thinks he or she is a victim – of a surgery error should consulta lawyer who is experienced in medical malpractice law and procedures.