Surgical malpractice comes in several forms, not all directly related to the surgeon. The perception that surgeons are the only medical providers who can be negligent is based on highly publicized malpractice cases. These cases can involve sponges or surgical instruments left behind in patients, and surgeons removing the wrong organs, or amputating the wrong limbs.
Causes of Surgical Errors
Physicians and their staff generally follow standard protocols
before, during, and after surgical procedures. Regardless of these protocols,
errors can still occur as a result of contributing factors such as:
- Inadequate preoperative planning— Medical staff must have a patient’s complete medical history, including reactions to medications, and must evaluate the risks of a particular surgery on the patient.
- Miscommunication— A nurse or other staff may misidentify a patient or incorrectly mark the wrong site for surgery. A surgeon may be misinformed about other material issues affecting the surgery, or may misread a drug’s dosage or the patient’s reaction to a drug. All surgical equipment must be accounted for after a procedure, but surgical sponges or other equipment sometimes do end up in a patient’s body cavity after a surgery is concluded.
- Fatigue or under the influence— Surgeons and staff work long hours and have been known to be intoxicated or to have taken drugs to stay alert. Consequently, their judgment can be impaired.
- Neglect— The failure to properly sterilize instruments or the use of defective surgical instruments can lead to infection, septic shock, and other life-threatening conditions.
- Incompetence— Surgeons must endure years of rigorous study and training, but not all possess the skills and competence to perform surgical procedures commensurate with the standard of reasonably competent surgeons.
We regularly handle surgical error cases, particularly those involving mistakes made during cataract surgery. If a misstep during surgery has left you or a loved one in serious pain or with permanent physical ailments, contact us today at 845.267.4878.