Common Surgical Errors: They can Change Your Life

August 31, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Common Surgical Errors: They can Change Your Life

Florida Surgical Errors and a Medical Malpractice Claim

Did you know that patients have actually died because surgeons removed the wrong organ, left surgical instruments inside a patient's body, and even operated on the wrong patient?

This may seem far-fetched, but the World Health Organization has actually created a checklist for surgeons in order to prevent such errors, as it estimates that in the United States alone surgeons operate on 200-300 wrong patients each year. Further, close to 2,500 patients have the wrong part of their body operated on each year. With these stunning statistics, it's not surprising that the chance of just a “minor” surgical errors is quite high. So what should you check for after your surgery and what can you do if you believe you suffered a surgical error in Florida?

Common Surgical Errors

Studies indicate that nearly 75% of surgical errors actually occur during surgery, with the remaining occurring either during pre or postoperative care. Other than operating on the wrong body part, performing the wrong surgery, and operating on the wrong patient, the following surgical errors are most commonly seen in surgical malpractice cases:

  • Leaving objects in the patient's body;
  • Anesthesia failures and miscalculations resulting in lack of oxygen, brain damage, and/or death;
  • Nerve damage;
  • Punctured organs; and
  • Infection.

Dangers of Surgical Errors

Of these errors, anesthesia errors are the most deadly. They may result in brain death before curative action can be taken and there is little in the way of treatment for such injuries.

Other errors, such as infection and organ punctures, can normally be treated if you recognize the signs and symptoms in a timely manner. Infection is an indirect surgical error, since the surgeon may have performed the surgery correctly, but an unknown mistake caused the infection. For example, a tool may have been left unsterilized or bacteria may have gotten into the air vents during surgery. Furthermore, you may develop an infection in postoperative care if your wound is not properly stitched, cleaned, and treated.

Signs and Symptoms of Surgical Errors

Even when surgeons implement safety procedures, such as counting equipment, checking and verifying the patient and surgical plan, and taking breaks to check over their surgical work during the procedure, mistakes still happen. You should take immediate action if you recently had surgery and begin to experience the following symptoms:

  • Intense, sharp pain at or near the surgical site;
  • Fever;
  • Burning pain when urinating;
  • Vomiting;
  • Abdominal pain; and
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling near surgical wounds and ports.

Some patients may ignore certain symptoms by assuming they are side effects of the surgery. But, you should always ask your surgeon what to expect after a procedure, and if your symptoms are falling outside of those expectations, seek immediate treatment. Unfortunately, medical malpractice can also occur if a surgeon fails to diagnose an infection after surgery. Even surgeons themselves can fail to diagnose a deep infection, such as a staph infection, at the surgical site, as the symptoms may mirror those expected after surgery. Only an MRI of the surgical site can diagnose certain staph infections and physicians may be hesitant to take such action after surgery. This may result in a need to reopen the surgical site in order to remove dead and infected bone and tissue.

Medical Equipment Failures

Tens of millions of Americans live with medical device implants, which are commonly used during routine surgery. But did you know that many of these medical devices are not clinically tested before they reach the consumer market? Most surgeons do not have specialized training when it comes to implanting these devices and it is often the product's sales representative who shows the doctor how to use and implant the device during surgery.

These devices often result in surgical errors, especially if the surgeon installing the device is not familiar with it. For example, silicone breast implants have been known to puncture and cause infection after surgery. Likewise, certain surgical meshes, which are used to help stabilize organs or bones after an operation, have been known to either grow into the organs of the body or cause intense pain and infection because the body begins to reject the implant. Such surgical implantation devices are common causes of surgical malpractice.

Florida Surgical Malpractice Law

Because surgical errors are among the most serious of all medical malpractice claims, even if you do not suffer a fatal injury as the result of surgical malpractice, you can endure intense pain and suffering. If medical equipment or a defective surgical device is left in your body, these foreign objects can cause pain, organ damage and failure, and fatal infections. Such malpractice will often result in the need for a second or third surgery, which can take you out of work for longer periods of time and drastically affect your family and earning potential.

Florida law requires you to show that the injury you suffered as a result of the surgery would not have been a reasonably foreseeable result of the procedure if another competent doctor had performed the same procedure in accordance with the reasonable standard of care. Often in surgical malpractice cases, such as leaving an instrument in a patient or even operating on the wrong patient, this is an easy standard to meet, as the malpractice is generally assumed. In other cases, however, such as cases involving infection or late developing issues at the surgical site, you will need the assistance of a Florida medical malpractice attorney and a team of expert witnesses and investigators in order to litigate your case.

Compensation for Your Surgical Malpractice Injuries

When someone is affected by surgical malpractice, the damages can often be very serious. The injuries that a person can sustain from almost any surgery error can result in medical expenses that can put someone in an immense financial crisis. Not to mention, this will all occur while someone is attempting to recover from a complication from a surgical error. They can be in intense pain, unable to work, or maybe bedridden. With a surgical malpractice claim, the damages suffered because of a surgeon's or even a hospital's negligence can be compensated so that the responsible parties can be held accountable. Damages from a surgical malpractice claim can include Medical Expenses: Those that have suffered from surgical errors like infection, nerve damage, and misplaced medical instruments will not only have to pay for corrective procedures and treatment. They will likely need medications, physical therapy, and hospital recovery. They may also have recurring expenses throughout their life as well. Pain and Suffering: The pain from nerve damage or infection can be extreme. Sometimes the pain from a surgical error can be recurring. the suffering from a doctor's negligence is compensable depending on what the jury or court feels is an appropriate amount. Disability: Surgical errors can leave a patient disabled and decrease their quality of life. they may not be able to work the same job or require special care. Lost Wages: While someone is suffering from a surgical error and recuperating they will likely not be able to work and all those wages can add up. Wrongful Death Damages(Funeral Expenses, Loss of Companionship, Etc.)

A Clearwater Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Analyze your Case

If you believe you have suffered as a result of a surgical error, contact a Florida medical malpractice attorney immediately to avoid being prohibited from filing suit due to time restrictions. An attorney can help connect you with the right doctors to diagnose and treat your injury, but who will also testify on your behalf and on behalf of their professional standards. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the medical malpractice experience you need in order to get the compensation you deserve after a painful surgical error. They are your premier medical malpractice attorneys in the greater Tampa Bay area. Contact them today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your injuries.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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