Medical Malpractice Arising from Surgical Errors

Many people will tell you that nothing is more important than maintaining your health. Not only is it necessary to live a normal life span, but it is also essential for enjoying more fully the time we have.

Some things we can do on our own. For example, people can pay attention to their diets and make sure that exercise becomes a routine activity. But no matter how careful we are, there are times that we need help from expert medical care providers. That help may be as simple as providing information or a prescription, or as complicated as performing a surgical procedure.

Most of the time, things work out well and help us to maintain our health. But sometimes, unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals make mistakes that actually result in greater harm, ranging from painful personal injury to wrongful death. In this article, we’ll discuss medical malpractice arising from surgical errors.

The Vast Number of Surgeries in America

Millions of surgeries occur across the United States each year. While many are performed in hospitals, it has become more and more common for surgeries to be performed in outpatient settings. In fact, Businesswire.com cites research estimating that the American outpatient surgical market will grow from approximately 129 million procedures in 2018 to 144 million procedures in 2023. According to WebMD, thousands of preventable mistakes are made every year during surgeries.

Certainly, some surgeries have more innate risk than others. For example, a complex organ transplant has risks not associated with a routine Tonsillectomy. On the other hand, when mistakes are made, the complexity of the surgery does not necessarily matter. For example, making a mistake with anesthesia can cause harm no matter how simple the underlying surgery. Thus, the level of harm may not necessarily be related to the type of surgery.

Below, we will discuss some common surgical mistakes.

  • Operating on the wrong part of the body - Believe it or not, surgeons continue to operate on the wrong body part of some patients. For example, a doctor might operate on the left leg when the surgery was intended to be performed on the right leg.
  • Cutting a nerve - Surgeons can cut an incorrect nerve for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, such injuries sometimes cannot be repaired.
  • Anesthesia errors - Anesthesia is a necessary part of surgery. Anesthesia errors can occur no matter how simple or how complicated the underlying surgery.
  • Leaving foreign objects inside a patient’s body - WebMD cites research estimating that surgeons leave foreign objects, like sponges, inside patients every week.
  • Operating on the wrong patient - Sometimes doctors get confused and perform the wrong procedure on the wrong patient.
  • Performing negligently - Sometimes an outcome is bad because a surgeon does not perform the procedure correctly. This can be due to lack of experience, incompetence, or other factors.

Evaluating Bad Surgical Outcomes

Not every bad surgical outcome means that a doctor was negligent. Surgery involves risk, and a bad result can occur even when a surgeon performs well. However, when a surgeon commits medical malpractice, he or she should be held accountable under the law. Determining whether medical malpractice has occurred can be complicated. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you make this determination and explore your rights.

Call with Questions

If you or a loved one has suffered from a poor surgical outcome, please call us with your questions. The experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield can help you evaluate the claim. We believe that the only way to make everyone in Oregon safer is by holding accountable those who harm others with their negligence.


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