Surgical errors are far more common than you might suspect. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published a study in which 1,108 elective neurosurgeries were analyzed. The researchers found 2,684 errors in 87.1 percent of these cases. Of these medical mistakes made during surgery, 22.6 percent were considered major errors and 78.5 percent were deemed preventable.
If you have suffered serious injuries because of a surgical error, your best course of action is to consult with one of our medical malpractice attorneys. Each of the five trial lawyers at The Colleran Firm has years of experience. Our founding attorney, James E. Colleran, Sr., has been handling medical malpractice cases with a history of success for more than 40 years.
Our Philadelphia lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. You pay us no fees until we recover compensation for you. Contact our firm to take advantage of our free case consultation. We can advise you as to whether you have a case and whether we can help you. We believe that negligent medical professionals should be held accountable for the harm they cause and that injured victims of medical malpractice should be fully compensated.
Causes of Medical Mistakes
NIH published an analysis of surgical errors in closed malpractice claims from 4 different insurers, performed for the purpose of identifying leading causes of surgical errors. Of the malpractice cases studied, 65 percent involved major or significant injury and 23 percent involved death.
The study found that 75 percent of the medical errors occurred in intraoperative care, including 25 percent before surgery, and 35 percent in post-operative care. In 62 percent of the cases, more than one medical professional played a contributory role in the surgery errors.
The following two factors contributed to error in a majority of these injury cases:
- Inexperience or lack of technical competence
- Communication breakdown
The following are some additional factors that can contribute to surgical mistakes:
- Distraction: Surgeons or other medical staff be may inattentive or distracted while performing surgery or caring for patients.
- Fatigue: Surgeons and medical staff often work long hours and they could be fatigued from performing too many surgeries in a day.
- Poor decisions: Surgeons may feel rushed under pressure and make reckless or careless decisions that can have devastating long-term effects on the patient.
Common Types of Surgery Errors
According to a John Hopkins malpractice study, preventable surgery errors known to researchers as “never events” (because they should never happen) occurred approximately 10,000 times in the U.S. from 1990 to 2010. As reported in the John Hopkins news release about the study, researchers found that every week surgeons make these types of medical mistakes at an alarming rate.
Common ‘never events’ include the following:
- Wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient – The patient is anesthetized and unable to protest while the surgeon performs the wrong surgical procedure, operates on the wrong part of the body, or performs a surgery intended for another patient. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, such occurrences are relatively rare, but terrifying, nevertheless.
- Injuring organs during surgery – When abdominal surgeries are performed, internal organs can be nicked or otherwise injured. The bowel is particularly susceptible to puncture because of its structure and length.
- Closing a wound with a sponge, towel, or other foreign object left in body – The John Hopkins study found that surgeons commit this shocking surgical error an estimated 39 times a week.
- Contamination and infection – Unsanitary instruments used during surgery can result in disease cross-contamination, and patients can develop serious infections and become septic. In a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, contamination accounted for 25.3 percent of the surgical errors discovered.
- Nerve damage – Patients can suffer nerve damage during surgery by a surgeon’s physical error or an error in the administration of anesthesia. In some cases, the damage can be permanent.
- Medication Errors – Medicine can can cause harm to patients in many ways, including were mistakes in labeling, incorrect dosage, neglecting to treat a problem indicated by the patient’s vital signs and documentation errors. Anesthesia is a common drug used during surgery, an anesthesia overdose can cause serious injury and even death when administered incorrectly.
Our Verdicts and Settlements in Surgical Errors Cases
Our firm has won numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our successes in surgical error medical malpractice cases include the following:
- $4,900,000 Luzerne County jury award for a woman who suffered a substantial bleed that caused permanent neurological injury because of a surgical error.
- $4,800,000 Philadelphia County jury award for a woman who suffered serious complications after a massive bleed caused by medical negligence during a C-section.
- $4,500,000 Philadelphia County jury award for the estate of a woman who died the day after a hysterectomy.
- $3,500,000 Philadelphia County jury award for a woman who suffered permanent injury as a result of a negligently performed knee replacement surgery.
- $1,800,000 Chester County jury award for a man who suffered above-the-knee amputation as a result of his vascular surgeon’s negligence.
Our Philadelphia Surgical Error Lawyers: The Right Choice
Our lawyers have dedicated their careers to protecting the rights and interests of people who have been injured through the negligence of others and the families of those who have lost their lives in wrongful death cases. When we prepare our medical malpractice cases, we have the knowledge and experience to thoroughly analyze the medical records before turning them over to medical experts for a full analysis. This gives our attorneys an advantage in developing effective strategies for our cases.
The primary goal of The Colleran Firm is to provide aggressive advocacy for our clients. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources your case demands. You and your family can rest assured knowing that your case is in good hands with our firm.