FREE CONSULTATION • CALL US 24 / 7 212-994-7777

Surgical Errors & Complications

Although there are inherent risks in any surgical procedure, surgical errors often result in serious injuries and fatalities. When a preventable surgical mistake occurs, injury victims may be able to recover significant compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Given the challenges of proving medical negligence, however — a key element in a malpractice claim — it is crucial to have proper legal representation.

Prime Law Firm has extensive experience representing victims of surgical errors in the greater New York area. Although most surgeons are well-schooled and highly skilled, we believe that no one should suffer because of a surgeon's negligence or incompetence. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a surgical error, we will fight to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We have a proven track record of success, having recovered millions of dollars for our clients in settlements and jury verdicts in medical malpractice claims arising from surgical errors.

What is a Surgical Error?

A surgical error is defined as a preventable mistake that occurs during surgery, however, an error during surgery may not be grounds for a lawsuit. To have a valid medical malpractice claim, it is necessary to demonstrate that the surgeon, medical team, or hospital provided treatment that fell below the accepted medical standard of care.

Moreover, a surgeon is required to inform a patient of the potential risks and benefits of, and alternatives to, any surgical procedure and obtain his or her written permission to proceed. This is known as “informed consent.” A surgeon who fails to obtain a patient's informed consent may be held legally responsible for a surgical error that results in injury.

Common Surgical Errors

One misconception is that surgical errors only occur during serious procedures, the most common surgical errors include:

  • Nerve Injuries — Because surgeons often operate close to nerves, surgical instruments can sever or slice nerves or cause inflammation. Nerve damage can also occur during the administration of anesthesia if a patient is in a position that leads to a pinched nerve.
  • Anesthesia Errors — A patient who is given too much anesthesia may not receive sufficient oxygen which can cause brain damage or result in death. On the other hand, if If too little anesthesia is provided, a patient might awaken during surgery and experience tremendous pain.
  • Surgical Equipment Left Inside a Patient — Scalpels, clamps, sponges and other surgical equipment are frequently left in patient's bodies by surgical teams. This can cause extreme pain, severe infections, and deaths. Nonetheless, surgeons are required to follow proper protocols, such as a “standard materials checklist”, to prevent this occurrence.
  • Wrong Body Part Surgery — Also referred to as “wrong side” surgery, such errors may lead to the removal of a healthy organ instead of a diseased one or the amputation of the wrong limb.
  • Wrong Patient Surgery — Factors such as lack of preoperative verification or poor hospital protocol can lead to the removal of healthy organs or other injuries when patients don't have the surgery that they actually needed.

Reasons for Surgical Errors

Although surgical errors are preventable, they are often caused by factors such as:

  • Incompetence — An inexperienced surgeon may lack the level of skill necessary to perform the surgery successfully.
  • Insufficient Preoperative Planning — A surgeon must prepare for surgery by reviewing the patient's medical record and anticipating possible complications. Additionally, the surgical team should make sure that all the necessary equipment is ready and available as needed.
  • Improper Procedures — Taking shortcuts or skipping certain steps during surgery can have serious consequences.
  • Poor Communication — Miscommunication during a surgical procedure can lead to errors such as wrong site for surgery, failing to make sure all surgical equipment is available, or a mistake in the proper dosage of a patient's medication.
  • Fatigue — Because surgeons usually work long shifts during which they perform multiple operations, fatigue is common, which lends itself to surgical errors.
  • Drugs/Alcohol — Surgeons may abuse drugs and alcohol to “self medicate” or to cope with stress, which can affect their performance during an operation.
  • Neglect — Surgeons may fail to act with due care by failing to make sure instruments have been properly sterilized or using outdated surgical equipment.

Ultimately, surgical error malpractice cases are complicated by the inherent risks involved in all medical procedures, even minor surgery. While the rules regarding informed consent are designed to protect patient, a surgical error claim can become more challenging if a surgeon receives a patient's informed consent.

New York City Surgical Error Attorneys

At Prime Law Firm, we know that patients place their trust, and their lives, in the hands of surgeons. When a surgical error is the result of medical negligence, we know how to hold the responsible parties accountable. By conducting a thorough investigation and working with our network of respected medical experts, we will work to show how the surgeon, medical team or hospital was negligent. Above all, we will provide you with compassion and knowledge and fight for your right to just compensation. Please contact our office as soon as possible to speak with one of our attorneys.