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5 Ways Surgery Errors Can Lead to Lawsuits

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

You go through surgery to feel better or to address a pressing medical problem. But sometimes after surgery, you end up in a worse condition.

A lot can go wrong in the operating room, and you may need to consider bringing a lawsuit to get compensation. Considering that you're typically unconscious when the surgery is performed, you may not realize what went wrong until after you've recovered.

So what types of mistakes can happen during surgery? Here are five of the most common surgical mistakes that can lead to malpractice lawsuits:

  1. Retained foreign objects. Studies show that every year at least 4,000 patients around the country have a medical instrument left inside their bodies following surgery. The objects left inside patients can include clamps, scalpels and scissors, but the majority of times -- about two-thirds of these cases -- the retained surgical item is a surgical sponge.

  2. Infections. Infections pose a silent danger post-surgery. About 1 in 20 hospitalized patients will develop an infection during their stay. These infections kill as many as 98,000 Americans annually. The most common cause of a hospital-acquired infection is poor hygiene on the part of doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff.

  3. Falls. If you are not properly secured onto the operating table, you can fall off and suffer injuries while you're knocked out. Doctors and surgical staff are moving your body as they perform the surgery, and you may shift unconsciously as well. That's why it's important for OR staff members to properly strap you in.

  4. Medication errors. Adverse drug effects are responsible for almost 100,000 emergency hospitalizations of U.S. adults over 65, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study. Doctors may prescribe the wrong medicine, or wrong doses of the right medicine. Nurses and other staff members may also administer the wrong dose, or the wrong medicine altogether.

  5. Wrong-site surgery or surgery on the wrong patient. Yes, this happens. Sometimes doctors mix up which patient is which and perform the wrong surgery on the wrong patient. Other times, doctors get the patient right, but perform surgery on the wrong body part like operating on the left leg instead of the right.

Many if not all of these surgery mishaps are preventable, and they're often tied to negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, or even the hospital or surgical center where your procedure took place. If you're a victim of a surgical mistake, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can help figure out the best way to proceed.

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