INDIANAPOLIS 317-566-9600
KOKOMO 765-865-9300
BLOOMINGTON 812-566-2600



INDIANAPOLIS 317-566-9600
KOKOMO 765-865-9300
BLOOMINGTON 812-566-2600





Common Surgical Errors That Can Occur

Simply defined, a surgical error is a preventable mistake during surgery and referred to as “never events” in the medical community. Dr. Ken Kizer, former CEO of the National Quality Forum, coined the term “never event” in 2001 as reference to shocking medical errors such as wrong-site surgery that should never occur. Since then, the list of surgical errors has grown to include other adverse events that are usually preventable. All surgeries involve an element of risk. For that reason, it is typical to sign an “informed consent” form before undergoing surgery that states you understand surgery involves certain known risks. Surgical errors go beyond the known risks of surgery, as surgical errors are unexpected. It is crucial to understand what may be considered a surgical mistake. The following are types of common surgical errors:

1. Not Creating a Surgical Plan

Pharmacy medication errors encompass a wide range of mistakes that occur while prescribing, dispensing, or administering medications. According to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, these errors can include providing the wrong medication, incorrect dosage, inadequate instructions, or failing to identify potential drug interactions. Here are six examples of pharmacy malpractice.

2. Ignoring or Failing to Complete a Full Patient History

A comprehensive patient history is essential to identify potential risks associated with surgery. It helps healthcare providers assess a patient’s overall health, any pre-existing conditions, medication allergies, and previous surgeries. When medical professionals ignore or overlook essential aspects of a patient’s history, they jeopardize patient safety. Failure to complete a full patient history may lead to unanticipated complications during surgery, which can result in surgical error medical malpractice claims if it can be demonstrated that these omissions contributed to the harm suffered by the patient.

3. Failing to Advise of Potential Surgery Risks

Informed consent is a fundamental principle of medical ethics. Patients have a right to be fully informed about the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives to a surgical procedure before giving consent. Failing to provide clear and comprehensive information about the risks associated with surgery can lead to misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, and patients making uninformed decisions about their healthcare. If a healthcare provider neglects their duty to advise patients of potential surgical risks, it can be considered a breach of their legal and ethical obligations.

4. Delaying Surgery for Insufficient Reasons, Leading to Further Complications

Unjustified delays in surgery can have severe consequences for patients. When healthcare providers postpone surgery without sufficient medical justification, it can result in the patient’s condition worsening or additional complications arising. Patients who experience such delays may consider seeking legal counsel to assess whether the healthcare provider’s decision constituted medical malpractice.

5. Performing Surgery on the Wrong Area of the Body

Wrong-site surgery is a catastrophic error that should never occur. Operating on the wrong area of the body can lead to irreversible damage, prolonged recovery, and emotional trauma for the patient. Such cases are clear instances of medical malpractice, and victims have substantial grounds to pursue legal action against the responsible healthcare providers and institutions.

6. Performing Procedures That Are Not Necessary

Performing unnecessary surgical procedures not only places patients at risk, but also raises ethical and legal concerns. Patients trust healthcare providers to recommend and perform only medically necessary interventions. When surgeons carry out unnecessary procedures, they expose patients to the potential harms of surgery without any medical benefit.


7. Negligently Using Surgical Equipment and Instruments

Properly and carefully using surgical instruments and equipment is critical to patient safety during surgery. Negligent handling or misuse of these tools can lead to severe injuries, bleeding, and other complications. Patients who experience harm due to the negligent use of surgical instruments may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, as it represents a failure to meet the standard of care expected in the operating room.

8. Leaving Surgical Tools in the Patient’s Body

Leaving surgical instruments or objects in a patient’s body after surgery is a shocking and potentially life-threatening surgical error. Such retained objects can lead to severe pain, infections, and the need for additional surgery to remove them. Patients who discover that surgical tools were inadvertently left inside them should seek immediate medical attention and consult an attorney to understand their legal options, as this error typically constitutes a clear medical malpractice case.

9. Insufficient Sanitary and Hygienic Preparations

Maintaining a sterile surgical environment is essential to prevent post-operative infections. Inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices in the operating room can expose patients to harmful bacteria and pathogens, leading to serious infections and complications. Cases where patients suffer from post-operative infections due to unsanitary conditions may warrant a medical malpractice investigation to determine if the hospital or surgical team breached their duty of care.

10. Misdiagnosing Symptoms or Failing to Recognize Severity or Appearance of Symptoms

Accurate symptom recognition and diagnosis are critical in surgical decision-making. Misdiagnosis or the failure to recognize the severity or appearance of symptoms can lead to inappropriate surgical interventions or the delay of necessary surgeries. 

11. Damaging Other Parts of the Body During Surgery

Surgical procedures require precision and care to avoid unintended damage to surrounding tissues and organs. In cases where surgeons inadvertently damage other parts of the body during surgery, patients may experience complications and prolonged recovery times. Patients who can establish that such damage occurred due to negligence or a failure to adhere to established surgical standards may be eligible for compensation through a medical malpractice claim.

12. Doctors, Nurses, and Other Staff Failing to Provide Proper Attention

A surgical team must work cohesively to ensure patient safety and successful procedures. Neglecting to provide proper attention, communication, or coordination during surgery can lead to errors and surgical complications. 

13. Making Reckless Decisions Under Pressure

Surgical procedures often require quick thinking and decision-making under pressure. However, healthcare providers are expected to make informed and rational decisions, even in high-stress situations. When reckless decisions are made under pressure during surgery, it can result in preventable errors and patient harm.

14. Misreading or Ignoring Lab Results

Laboratory tests and results play a crucial role in guiding surgical decisions. Misreading or ignoring important lab data can lead to incorrect treatment plans or surgical interventions not aligned with the patient’s medical condition. 

15. Failing to Follow Up with a Patient After Surgery

Post-operative care and follow-up are essential to monitor a patient’s recovery progress and address any emerging complications. Failing to provide adequate follow-up care can result in delayed intervention and worsened patient outcomes. 

16. Discharging a Patient Prematurely

Post-operative care and follow-up are essential to monitor a patient’s recovery progress and address any emerging complications. Failing to provide adequate follow-up care can result in delayed intervention and worsened patient outcomes. 

Premature patient discharge from a healthcare facility, especially after surgery, can have serious consequences. Patients may be sent home before they recover sufficiently or while complications develop. When patients are discharged prematurely, and experience worsened conditions or complications as a result, it may constitute medical malpractice. Those affected should seek immediate medical attention and assess the circumstances suffered due to premature discharge.

How Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help

Patients who suffer harm due to any of the errors above may have a valid medical malpractice claim if it can be demonstrated that the neglect of the healthcare provider’s failure to meet their duty of care directly contributed to their adverse outcomes. At Golitko & Daly, P.C., our seasoned attorneys possess extensive expertise in handling surgical error lawsuits. Our unwavering commitment to your rights and impressive track record empower us to vigorously advocate for you during these challenging times.

If you believe you are a victim of malpractice, it is important to seek legal representation from a medical malpractice lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. In addition to seeking legal recourse, working with healthcare providers to ensure you receive the appropriate medical care and support is essential.

To schedule a free consultation, call us at 317-566-9600 (Indianapolis), 765-865-9300 (Kokomo), or 812-566-2600 (Bloomington), or complete our online inquiry form to schedule an appointment* with one of our health professional attorneys to review your case. We hope to hear from you if you were harmed through medical treatments or neglect. We have offices in Indianapolis, Kokomo, and Bloomington to serve you.

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