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What Are the Most Common Types of Surgical Errors?

December 14, 2022

Medical negligence is alarmingly frequent in the United States, often involving common types of surgical errors. Mistakes in the operating room are among the leading causes of unnecessary deaths in hospitals and subsequent medical malpractice claims. When undergoing surgery, you trust that your surgical team will ensure your safety and help you feel better. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. 

The experienced attorneys at Coplan + Crane have substantial experience in a range of medical malpractice cases, including surgical errors. We understand both the medicine and the law involved in these situations. If you or a loved one was harmed by a surgical mistake, our attorneys want to hear your story. You may be entitled to compensation for your physical, financial, and emotional losses.

The Most Common Types of Surgical Errors in the United States

Undergoing surgery can be a stressful experience for many people. Whether your procedure has been scheduled for several weeks, or it is an emergency situation, you depend on your surgeon, nurses, anesthesiologists, and others to address your medical concern properly. However, even slight oversights can have catastrophic consequences in surgical situations. Many people assume that mistakes only happen in very complex procedures, but even routine surgeries can involve serious errors with long-term consequences.

Some of the most common types of surgical errors in the U.S. include:

Foreign Objects Left in a Patient

Shockingly, one of the most common types of surgical errors is leaving foreign objects in a patient after surgery. A foreign object left behind can include anything from clamps to surgical sponges to gauze. When surgeons fail to inspect the surgical cavity adequately, and the operation team fails to keep track of all surgical components that were used and retrieved, catastrophic consequences can result. Not only does leaving an object behind in a patient lead to discomfort, but it can also cause life-threatening infections or even death if the object is not recovered immediately.

Operating on the Wrong Patient

As a patient, you trust that when you are taken into the operating room, the surgeon and staff know who you are and what procedure is being performed. Unfortunately, serious mistakes can occur when the proper steps aren’t taken to ensure operations aren’t performed on the wrong patient. This can happen if medical records are mistakenly switched and medical professionals do not double-check records manually.

Operation on the Wrong Site

When safety measures are rushed, and surgeons, nurses, and other medical staff do not take the proper steps to make sure operations happen at the correct location on the body, surgical procedures can be performed on the wrong site.

These errors can involve the amputation of a wrong limb, or even removing or replacing the wrong organ in a patient, such as a kidney. While these mistakes are always tragic, in some cases, they can be life-threatening.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia controls a patient’s ability to feel a procedure and helps regulate everything from blood pressure to heart rate to oxygen. Unfortunately, mistakes with anesthesia are among the most common types of surgical errors. Patients who undergo surgery – even a routine outpatient procedure, require some form of anesthesia.

When incorrect doses of anesthesia are administered, patients can suffer a number of complications, including permanent brain damage. Under too little anesthesia, the patient can regain consciousness during surgery or be aware of what is occurring but be unable to inform the operating team what is happening.

Failing to obtain a patient’s full medical history – and react appropriately, can lead to errors that cause allergic reactions or lethal interactions, both of which can be fatal.

How a Lawyer Can Help

If you or a loved one suffered at the hands of a medical professional – whether in or out of the operating room – you deserve justice. Medical negligence claims are among the most complicated types of cases you can face. Contacting an attorney promptly can help ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.

Medical malpractice attorneys understand the complexities of these difficult cases. At Coplan + Crane, our firm has built a reputation for excellence in a range of medical negligence matters, including surgical errors, emergency room errors, hospital errors, and much more. We have the knowledge, skill, and resources necessary to determine the cause of your injury, identify the potentially liable parties and pursue the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled under Illinois law.

However, you only have a limited time to act. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years. A patient may have eight years to bring a claim if he or she was a minor at the time he or she suffered an injury due to negligence, (although the right to action ends when the victim turns 22). Even if this may seem like a long time, insurance companies often argue that the patient should have been aware of the medical injury much sooner. If this argument succeeds, you could lose your right to compensation.

Speak With a Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer for FREE

If you believe you suffered as the result of a surgical error, it is important to act quickly. During a free case evaluation with the Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Coplan + Crane, we will listen to your story, assess the merits of your claim, and explain your legal rights and options.

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Contact our office online or call (708) 358-8080 today for a FREE initial consultation. We welcome clients from Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas throughout Illinois.