Types of surgical errors

Pennsylvania residents who must undergo surgical procedures have good reason to be concerned about their safety. Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank spanning 20 years from 1990 to 2010 suggests that more than 4,000 surgical errors are made in the United States every year.

Over this time period, a total of $1.3 billion was paid out to plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases involving errors during surgery. This amount is for 9,744 total cases. Just what type of errors can take place in a surgical situation? There are many and the trauma they cause to patients and family members can be extreme.

As the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality indicates, many surgical errors are called “never events”. This is because they are deemed so unacceptable that they should never happen. Any never event is considered indicative of a grave safety problem on the part of the facility or team involved. An example of a never event is when a patient is supposed to have a left kidney removed but instead the right kidney is removed.

Other types of never events include having an operation performed on the wrong patient. Imagine two people are in a hospital and one is there for the treatment of pneumonia while the other is there for a leg amputation but somehow the pneumonia patient ended up being taken into the operating room and having his or her leg removed. Also problematic is when the wrong surgery is done or when items like a surgical sponge or gloves are left inside a patient.

Written on behalf of Friedman Schuman. Contact our firm for a consultation to discuss your legal matter.