Medical malpractice law allows people to sue if they were injured because of faulty surgery if the surgical error was due to negligence, inattention, or the error could have been otherwise prevented. Here are some examples of faulty surgery that could warrant a medical malpractices lawsuit:
Wrong-site surgery - Wrong-site surgery is typically considered a rare event. However, a 2006 study by Mary R. Lwaan, MD, a colorectal surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, revealed there is one wrong-site surgery for every 112,994 surgeries. With approximately 65 million surgeries performed each year in the U.S., this kind of event isn’t as rare as medical professionals would like to admit. This kind of faulty surgery can cost patients their lives or result in permanent injury. Even more shocking, a 2013 survey reported that 12.4% of doctors that had performed a wrong-site surgery had claims against them for more than one event.
Wrong patient surgery - Performing an operation on the wrong patient is also considered a “never event,” yet this type of error happens. Wrong patient surgery could result in healthy organs being removed or injured and can also be detrimental to the patient who should have received the operation.
Leaving foreign objects inside a patient - Clamps, surgical sponges, and retractors are just some examples of foreign objects that could get left behind. This kind of surgical error is probably the easiest to avoid since it’s standard procedure to count all instruments before and after surgery. Foreign objects left behind can leave victims in excruciating pain and can cause abscesses, obstruction, or even worse.
Anesthesia errors - Anesthesia is meant to prevent patients from feeling pain during an operation. Still, mistakes in administering anesthesia can have deadly consequences. Too much anesthesia can kill, too little can leave a patient to feel everything that is happening to them. Doctors can use the wrong type of anesthesia or fail to recognize adverse drug reactions when mixed with certain types of anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can cause hypoxia, brain damage, or other organ damage.
Nerve damage - When surgeons perform an operation, it’s an invasive procedure. If a surgeon isn’t sufficiently careful, patients can suffer nerve damage. Nerve damage is caused when a surgeon nicks or cuts a nerve which damages the myelin. Scar tissue can put pressure on a nerve, causing tingling, burning sensations, muscle weakness, impaired mobility, numbness, or a complete loss of sensation. Nerve damage can occur if a surgeon is rushing, not paying attention, or via a slip of the hand. Some nerve damage is to be expected and typically heals on its own. However, if a patient is still suffering months after surgery, it could be a permanent injury.
Infection and cross-contamination - If the surgeon’s team does not clean or sanitize surgical instruments properly, patients are left vulnerable to infection, diseases, or the transmission of pathogens which can be fatal. Unsanitary instruments can cause sepsis, organ failure, loss of limbs, or an unusually long recovery period. While the risk of infection is inherent to surgical procedures, if a surgeon or the hospital fails to meet the standard of care that is the responsibility of all in the medical field, it could be cause for a medical malpractice claim.
Unnecessary surgery - The definition of unnecessary surgery is any surgery that is not needed, not indicated, or not in the patient’s best interest when compared to other available options. A shocking 70% of doctors believe that other doctors are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when it profits them. Since there are known risks for any surgery, performing an unnecessary surgery is particularly insidious when they leave a patient at risk for organ failure, infection, paralysis, or death.