Surgery requires an immense level of skill and care by the healthcare professionals performing the procedure, including the surgeons, the anesthesiologist, and nurses. When doctors and nurses do make an error during surgery, they can easily put a patient’s life at risk. Even when a surgical error is not fatal, it can cause serious harm. Although surgical errors come in many different forms, some types of errors and the causes of errors are more common than others. 

Common Examples of Surgical Errors

While surgical errors are fortunately rare compared to the total number of surgeries that are performed, when errors do happen the most frequent types of surgical errors include:

  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure, or performing a procedure on the wrong patient
  • Performing an unnecessary surgery
  • Causing unnecessary damage due to mistakes in making incisions
  • Leaving instruments or materials inside a patient
  • Administering a contraindicated anesthesia
  • Administering too little anesthesia, which may allow a patient to wake up during surgery
  • Administering too much anesthesia, which may lead to fatal complications
  • Failing to monitor patient vitals
  • Failing to respond to signs of patient distress, such as stopping the surgery or calling in other specialists
  • Causing infection
  • Post-operative errors such as not monitoring a patient for complications, not providing post-discharge instructions to the patient, or not scheduling follow-up examinations

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Not every surgical error will give rise to a claim for medical malpractice. The law does not require healthcare professionals to be perfect, only to provide treatment in accordance with the accepted standard of care. To succeed on a legal claim following a surgical error, you must show that the doctors and nurses who performed your surgery committed some act of negligence.

Some of the most common causes of surgical errors that constitute medical malpractice include:

  • Lack of training or experience -- A surgeon may attempt to perform a procedure that they have not been trained to perform or that they lack the experience to be reasonably confident they can successfully perform the procedure. 
  • Not having sufficient staff, including not having enough nurses to properly support the surgeons and to monitor patient vitals. Without sufficient staff for a surgery, everyone on the surgical team may become overworked, which can lead to mistakes. Insufficient staff may also result from not having appropriate specialist surgeons that can be called in to assist if complications arise during a procedure.
  • Fatigue, as some surgeons may schedule too many procedures in a day and become tired during later surgeries.
  • Intoxication -- Unfortunately, some surgeons or nurses may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when performing a surgery
  • Insufficient communication, as all the members of a surgical team are expected to work together to maintain patient safety and ensure a successful outcome to the procedure. 
  • Medication errors, including not taking a full patient history to determine if certain anesthesias may be contraindicated for a patient, or miscalculating the amount of anesthesia that will be needed to keep the patient under throughout the surgery without running the risk of overdosing

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Surgical Error Case in New Jersey

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Rochelle Park surgical error attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Mahwah, Paramus, Ridgewood, and Newark. Call us today at (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 340 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park, NJ 07762.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.