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Surgical errors in the medical field

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Surgical errors should never happen in the medical field, yet they do at an alarming rate. Reports show that at least 4,000 surgical errors occur in the U.S. every year, with a significant percentage of these mistakes resulting in adverse effects.

Here is what to know about these errors:

What causes them?

Different factors contribute to surgical errors including:  

  • Inadequate staffing 
  • Poor communication between a surgeon and the patient/ a surgeon and the supporting staff 
  • Lack of adequate training and education 
  • Distractions 
  • Rush to complete procedures, which can be linked to inadequate staffing 
  • Technology – even though the advancement of technology in surgery has led to many benefits, it has also caused surgical errors. For example, cases of robotic surgery causing accidental hemorrhage have been reported 

These factors can be prevented. That’s why surgical errors are considered never events.

What is the most common type of error?

Wrong-patient, wrong-site, and wrong-procedure errors have been the most common surgical mistakes in the medical field for years. Surgeons who fail to thoroughly review a patient’s records before beginning an operation make these errors in high numbers. 

Who is liable for surgical errors?

In most cases, the surgeon(s) or surgical staff are usually answerable for a mistake associated with an operation. However, a hospital may also be liable. For example, when it fails to employ practices that surgeons must observe before a procedure begins, such as a timeout (taking a pause when the patient is on the operating table to confirm that the patient, procedure and site are correct). 

A hospital may also be liable if it knows about a surgeon’s history of incompetence or negligence but still lets them perform a procedure, harming a patient.

If you experience a surgical error, learn more about your case to know your options and rights.