Doctor holding an injured hand with a cast around it

Most Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are preventable mistakes that claim many lives in the United States every year. Facing the prospect of undergoing an operation is frightening enough without having to worry about whether the surgeon will make a mistake that changes or ends your life. The medical community refers to these mistakes as “never events” because they should never happen.

If you or a loved one got harmed because of a surgical error, a South Carolina personal injury attorney could help you pursue the compensation you deserve from the negligent party. This article will cover some of the most common causes of surgical errors.

The Most Common Types of Surgical Errors

There are many types of mistakes a surgeon can make during an operation. Here are five of the most common surgical errors that happen in the United States:

  1. Anesthesia mistakes. There is very little margin for error with anesthesia. If the anesthesiologist does not administer enough anesthesia to keep the patient unconscious during the entire procedure, the patient can regain consciousness. When that happens to a patient, they can experience extreme pain and emotional distress. On the other hand, too much anesthesia could cause oxygen deprivation or damage to brain tissue. Sometimes, too much anesthesia can be fatal. 
  2. Right patient, wrong procedure. In this situation, the medical charts get mixed up and the surgeon performs the wrong surgery on the patient.
  3. Failing to remove all of the foreign objects from the patient’s body. If the operating room is disorganized or the OR staff fails to communicate well, they can lose count of how many objects got used and how many got removed during and at the end of the surgery. Scalpels, gauze, clamps, and other foreign objects can cause infection and pain for the patient.
  4. Damage to adjacent organs or tissue. If the surgeon does not have the skill or attention appropriate for the procedure, nearby body parts can get damaged. Nerves can get cut and blood vessels can get punctured or severed.
  5. Correct procedure, wrong location. Let’s say that a person has cancer in their left kidney. The surgeon mistakenly removes the right kidney. When that happens, the patient has to undergo dialysis until an organ donor becomes available, because their only healthy kidney got removed by accident. 

These are only a few examples of surgical errors that happen on a daily basis.

What Causes These Surgical Mistakes

Why do people who went through so much schooling and clinical training make such grievous errors? Some of the most common causes of these surgical mistakes include the following:

  • The surgeon overreaches their skill level. The surgeon might want to perform procedures that they do not have the ability to execute well and safely. 
  • Substance abuse, either drugs or alcohol, can impair the surgeon’s ability to perform surgical tasks correctly. 
  • Intense fatigue has been an ongoing problem in the medical field for decades. Understaffing, not getting enough sleep, working multiple jobs, and juggling too many life tasks can render the surgical staff exhausted and sleep deprived.
  • When a surgical center or hospital fails to have adequate preoperative and other protocols or does not always follow proper procedures, infections, surgical errors, and other mistakes can happen, to the detriment of the patient.
  • Substandard communication before and during surgery can lead to mistakes in operations. 

The doctor and hospital will likely put up an aggressive defense against your medical malpractice claim. A South Carolina personal injury attorney could fight your battles for you so that you can have the time and energy to focus on your recuperation. For help with your case get in touch with our office today.