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Common Surgical Errors

Oct 16, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Surgery requires a high degree of skill and unfortunately, not all surgeons carry out their duties in accordance with the appropriate standard of care. Significantly, surgical error is one of the most common reasons medical malpractice lawsuits are brought. While injuries resulting from surgical errors can range in severity, they often result in lifelong complications such as brain injury or paralysis— in the most serious cases, they can be fatal. If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a surgeon’s negligence, you may be entitled to hold them accountable and recover your damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.    

What is a Surgical Error?

A surgical error is a mistake made during surgery that could have been prevented by exercising due care. Although all surgeries involve a level of risk, these types of errors are unanticipated and go beyond the inherent risks of surgery. In many cases, surgical errors are caused by incompetence, lack of preparation, insufficient planning, poor communication, fatigue, or carelessness. In some instances, a surgeon’s negligence may have been caused by their being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the operation was performed.  

Some common types of surgical errors include the following:

  • Leaving an instrument or sponge inside a patient
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Performing the operation on the wrong patient
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Injuring a nerve during the surgical procedure
  • Infections
  • Cutting an organ by mistake
  • Failure to address complications arising from surgery

Not all poor outcomes of surgery constitute medical malpractice. In order to establish a claim for medical malpractice, a patient must show that the surgeon’s mistake was unreasonable under the facts and circumstances. Specifically, the surgeon must have deviated from the standard of care that would otherwise have been provided. The breach of their duty of care must also have been the proximate cause of the patient’s injury.

Compensation for Surgical Error Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice can result in the need for extensive — and sometimes, lifelong — medical treatment. It can also cause a victim to lose time from work or be unable to return to their employment. In addition to the financial losses that may be incurred, surgical errors can also lead to considerable physical pain and mental anguish. A victim harmed by a surgical error caused by a doctor’s negligence, may be entitled to recover their economic and non-economic damages by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Recoverable economic damages in a surgical error lawsuit can include current and future medical expenses, the costs of corrective surgeries, expenses for physical therapy, lost earning capacity, lost wages, and the cost of replacement services. Non-economic damages can be awarded for a victim’s pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and emotional trauma. In some cases, a jury may award punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant, if their conduct was found to be particularly egregious. 

Generally, a medical malpractice victim only has two and a half years to bring a case. The statute of limitations begins running on the date of the incident. In situations where a surgical tool was left behind in the victim’s body, the time frame to commence a lawsuit is calculated from the date the injury was discovered or reasonably could have been discovered.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP is a New York personal injury firm that has been fighting for the rights of victims of medical malpractice since 1937, including those who have been harmed due to surgical errors. Handling every case with personalized time and attention, we have earned a well-deserved reputation among our clients and colleagues for our integrity and impressive track record of success. Contact us to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.




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