What to Do When a Surgeon Makes a Mistake

Thousands of surgeries occur across Oregon and the United States every day. In fact, most Americans can thank a surgeon for providing important medical care, either personally or to a friend or loved one. And while some surgeries might be described as more complicated than others, few patients undergoing a surgical procedure truly think of their surgery as “minor.” This is understandable because major harm can occur from the most “minor” of surgeries. So, while Oregonians are thankful for the many fine surgeons in the State, it is also true that many patients suffer harm at the hands of surgeons. In this article, we will discuss what to do when a surgeon makes a mistake.

Medical Malpractice Surgery Statistics

In past articles on this blog, we have discussed a number of statistics that suggest that medical malpractice causes hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries across the country yearly. In fact, one report determined medical malpractice to be a major cause of death in America. In this article, we will focus specifically on surgery.

In a study released in 2012, Johns Hopkins researchers reported on the frequency of events they labeled as surgical “never events.” These are events that the researchers state that all health care professionals agree should never happen. Following are some of the findings:

  • Following surgery, surgeons leave foreign objects (like sponges) in their patients’ bodies 39 times per week;
  • Surgeons in America operate on the wrong body parts 20 times per week; and
  • Surgeons across the United States perform the wrong surgical procedure 20 times per week.

Medical Malpractice Suits Against Surgeons

Quoting the New England Journal of Medicine, CBS news listed the types of doctors most likely to be sued, along with the percentage of doctors in the specialty who were sued each year. While the data is a few years old, it’s interesting to note the prevalence of surgeons on the list. Here are the top 5 results:

  1. Neurosurgeons – 19.09 percent sued annually.
  2. Thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons – 18.9 percent sued annually.
  3. General surgeons – 15.31 percent sued annually.
  4. Orthopedic surgeons – 14.16 percent sued annually.
  5. Plastic surgeons – 12.7 percent sued annually.

What You Should Do in the Event of a Surgical Mistake

Surgeries are complicated medical procedures, and it’s not always easy to determine if a bad outcome resulted from surgical negligence or other causes. Careful investigation is required, and one or more expert witnesses will be needed. Thus, it’s important to find an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you gather facts, investigate your case, and consult with the appropriate experts to determine if the surgeon made a mistake. If so, like all professionals, our society demands that the surgeon be held accountable for any malpractice.

Contact Us with Questions

At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we are passionate about the importance of holding all wrongdoers accountable to society. After all, such accountability protects everyone. Our lawyers have years of experience investigating and handling medical malpractice claims, including surgical errors. If you or a loved one has undergone a surgical procedure that you think has caused harm, you probably have questions. Please feel free to contact us with your questions or for a free consultation. We can help you investigate and evaluate your unique circumstances, and help you to come up with a plan of action.


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