What Should You Expect if a Surgical Error Happens to You?

At Daic Law, our team was dismayed at a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in July, which indicated that surgeons may or may not fully disclose events leading to surgical errors, and often do not apologize. In light of this report, we decided to provide our readers with information about surgical errors, and what you can expect if a surgical error happens to you.

Should I be Concerned about Surgical Errors?

Unfortunately, yes. Surgical errors are classified as a type of medical error considered “never events”, meaning that they should never occur. Unfortunately, they do – and at an alarming rate. In 2012, it was estimated that 4,000 surgical errors occur each year across the U.S. The most common surgical errors reported include:

  • Retained Objects – Objects left inside the patient after surgery, including surgical tools, sponges or towels, or foreign objects.
  • Wrong Site Surgery – Surgeons performing the wrong procedure on a patient.
  • Wrong Body Surgery – Surgeons operating on the wrong body part of a patient.
  • Anesthesia Errors – Inadequate communication between anesthesiologist and surgical staff, administering too much or too little anesthesia, improper monitoring of vital signs.
  • Surrounding Tissue Damage – Surgeons damaging tissue or nerves near the surgical site may cause permanent damage. These injuries may include the scalpel puncturing organs or nerves, damage to blood vessels, or infection.

Should my Doctor Tell me or my Family if a Surgical Error Occurs?

Your doctor should tell you or your family immediately if a surgical error has occurred. There is a set of recommended disclosure practices that doctors are urged to follow, including:

  • Explaining what error occurred and why, within 24 hours of the surgery
  • Expressing regret that an error occurred
  • Showing concern for the welfare of the patient
  • Taking steps to address and treat any problems associated with the error

Should I Expect an Apology?

The report published in JAMA Surgery in July discussed the results of a survey conducted among surgeons to determine what happens when a surgical error occurs. While most surgeons reported following the guidelines above, only 55 percent reported apologizing to the patient and family afterward. While these results were only a small percentage of all U.S. surgeons, it is alarming to say the least.

What Should I do After a Surgical Error?

If you have been injured due to a surgical error, and you have not gotten the help and answers you need from healthcare providers, your next step should be contacting a medical malpractice attorney. Surgical errors are never “okay”, and you deserve to have an attorney on your side to help you defend your rights and pursue justice.

Contact Daic Law today to learn more about medical malpractice laws, your rights, and your options to get the compensation you deserve. Call our office at (713) 808-5246, or send us an email at info@daiclaw.com.

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/news/20121220/thousands-mistakes-surgery
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/surgical-errors-medical-malpractice.html
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/would-a-surgeon-tell-you-if-something-went-wrong-during-an-operation/