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What Kind of Surgical Errors Can Lead to Medical Malpractice?

Posted in Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a pervasive problem that is much more common than most patients realize. Careless mistakes and errors by health care practitioners lead to thousands of patient injuries and deaths each year. One of the most serious types of medical malpractice is surgical errors. If a surgeon or someone else in the operating room fails to provide proper patient care during an operation, or if the surgical center is guilty of negligence, they may be liable for medical malpractice.

Surgical Errors That Can Lead to Medical Malpractice


Wrong site, procedure or patient errors (WSPEs) are known as never events, as in they should never happen in a hospital that adheres to the correct standards of patient care. They are some of the most dangerous types of surgical errors, as they can result in a patient getting the wrong operation. This can lead to unnecessary health complications for the patient, as well as scars that he or she should not have had.

WSPEs also result in a patient never receiving the surgery he or she needed. This serious example of medical malpractice can be avoided with proper communication in the emergency room and pre-operative checks, such as double-checking the patient’s chart and the surgery board before operating.

Anesthesia Mistakes

Administering the correct mixture and amount of anesthesia are imperative. General anesthesia allows a patient to undergo surgery while unconscious to avoid undue pain or distress. It is important for an anesthesiologist to calculate the correct type and dosage of anesthesia based on the patient’s weight, medical history, type of procedure and other factors.

Too little anesthesia can lead to issues such as anesthesia awareness, a rare but traumatic issue where the patient is aware of the surgery and can feel pain but cannot move or speak. Too much anesthesia can cause brain damage, coma or death. An anesthesiologist also has the task of correctly intubating a patient for surgery and monitoring the patient’s vital signs throughout the procedure to maintain the correct amount of anesthesia.

Nerve or Organ Damage

A careless error made by a surgeon during a procedure could lead to preventable complications such as a nicked artery, internal bleeding, uncontrollable hemorrhaging, nerve damage or organ damage. These complications can have serious health risks to the patient and can even be fatal. If the surgeon made a mistake in his or her incisions or use of operating tools, the surgeon may be liable for the resultant negative consequences to the patient.

Retained Foreign Objects

A careless surgeon or nurse may leave an object, such as a cotton ball, towel or surgical tool, within the body cavity when the patient is stitched up. The operating team has a responsibility to thoroughly count each instrument and object used before and after surgery to prevent foreign objects from being accidentally left behind. Foreign retained objects can lead to infections, serious health complications and the need for revision surgeries later.


Patients who undergo operations are at risk of developing infections at the surgical sites. Incisions for surgeries are open wounds that require careful follow-up to prevent infection, such as antibiotics and clean bandages. Other types of follow-up care may also be necessary depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s health history, such as physical therapy.

It is also important for the hospital, emergency room or surgical center to follow proper sanitation practices to prevent infections, including sanitizing all tools and materials used during surgery before each operation. Negligent follow-up care or poor sanitation practices can lead to serious and deadly infections, including sepsis.

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you believe a professional made a preventable error during your recent surgery, contact a medical malpractice attorney in Albuquerque to schedule a free consultation about your legal rights. If you have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your present and future medical bills, as well as losses such as physical pain, emotional suffering and losses of income. Learn more about surgical error claims today by contacting an attorney.