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Why Do Surgical Errors Occur?


When a person goes to the hospital to get surgery, the last thing they or their family expects is for an error to happen that causes major harm. Unfortunately, surgical errors are quite common in the United States of America. According to research, at least 4,000 surgical errors occur annually in the United States. And while some surgical errors are unpreventable, most surgical errors are preventable. Most surgical errors occur because of negligence on the part of medical professionals. When a surgical error happens because of negligence, that is considered medical malpractice, and you have the right to file a medical malpractice claim after a surgical error and obtain compensation. A qualified attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve. This article looks at types of surgical mistakes and some of the most common causes of surgical errors.

Types of Surgical Errors

There are various types of surgical errors, including the following;

  • Wrong site surgery: This is when the wrong body part undergoes surgery.
  • Errant incision: This happens when the surgeon inadvertently cuts tissue that was not intended to be cut.
  • Negligent preparation: This happens when the surgeon fails to take proper precautions before conducting the surgery.
  • Foreign object left in a patient: This is when an item such as a sponge or scalpel is left inside the patient’s body.
  • Wrong operation: This happens when the surgeon performs the wrong operation on the correct body part.

Why Do Surgical Errors Happen?

As already mentioned, while some surgical errors are unpreventable, most surgical errors are preventable. Most surgical errors happen because of negligence. The following are some of the leading causes of surgical errors;

Inadequate Knowledge, Skill, or Training

If a medical professional does not have the proper knowledge, skill, or training required to perform a specific procedure, the chances of a surgical error occurring drastically increase. It might sound strange to some that a medical professional can perform a surgical procedure knowing they lack the knowledge, skill, or training to do so, but this happens.

Insufficient Preoperative Planning

It is necessary to properly plan for surgery. If a medical team is not adequately prepared for surgery, errors can occur. Proper preoperative planning involves, among other things, reviewing the patient’s medical history and current condition and preparing the necessary equipment. Not preparing adequately for surgery can lead to complications the team was not prepared for.

Poor Communication

If the surgical team does not communicate with other healthcare providers to learn about the patient’s medication allergies, the surgical team may end up giving the patient medication that they are allergic to. This may result in serious consequences. Poor communication can also lead to a surgeon marking the wrong site for surgery.


Tiredness or fatigue is a common cause of surgical errors. Surgeons work long hours and may suffer from a lack of rest. A tired surgeon is more likely to make mistakes during surgery than a well-rested surgeon.

Drugs or Alcohol

Some surgeons perform their duties while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This drastically increases the risk of errors. While this act of negligence is not so common, it occurs. Unfortunately, performing a surgical procedure while under the influence can lead to serious consequences.

Contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Attorney

Have you suffered harm because of a surgical error? Contact our qualified Atlanta medical malpractice attorney at Carroll Law Firm for legal help.


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