Surgical Errors: Thousands Occur Yearly

You may have heard horror stories about surgical procedures gone wrong. Getting an operation on the wrong side of your body. Or finding out a tool was left inside you. You might think these stories are fiction. Unfortunately, researchers have estimated that more than 4,000 surgical mistakes occur every year.1
Speak to an Attorney Now

Surgical Errors Can Affect Your Life

Although they sound like something out of The Twilight Zone television series, these stories are often true. In some cases, patients correctly report that their surgeon operated on their wrong body part or wrong side of their body. Other patients experience severe complications because a medical instrument was left behind during a procedure.(2)

Surgical Error Lawsuits

If you or a loved one underwent surgery and experienced harm because of a surgical error, we urge you to contact Weitz & Luxenberg’s surgical error attorneys. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you evaluate your circumstances and provide legal guidance.

Our surgical error attorneys are investigating claims involving the following types of surgical errors:

  • Objects left behind.
  • Patients who were operated on the wrong side or part of their body.
  • Cases where patients underwent the wrong surgery altogether.
  • Infections contracted due to surgical procedures.
  • Falls during surgery.
  • Medication errors due to surgery.

If you have suffered serious harm due to a surgeon’s neglect or oversight, we encourage you to get in touch with an experienced attorney. At Weitz & Luxenberg, our attorneys have been handling complex medical malpractice lawsuits for more than 30 years.

We have a solid history of winning. Over the years, we have won billions of dollars on behalf of our clients.

Please, do not hesitate to contact us for more information. We offer a free initial consultation.

You can contact us by phone at (800) 476-6070 or complete the form provided on this web page. One of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly.

Surgeons in operating room

Surgical Harm Done to Patients

Among many in the medical profession, surgical mistakes, or errors, are called “never events.” That is because significant surgical errors are never supposed to happen.(3)

A former CEO of the National Quality Forum came up with the term in 2001. The term originally referred to particularly alarming surgical mistakes, such as performing surgery on the wrong place on a patient’s body.(4)

The National Quality Forum list of never events now includes three criteria:(5)

  • The surgical error should be a clearly identifiable mistake.
  • The surgical mistake generally results in a serious disability or death.
  • The surgical slipup usually could have been prevented.

The list refers to 29 specific types of surgical errors grouped into seven categories. These categories include surgical, medical device, and case management mistakes.(6)

Examples of surgical errors include operating on the wrong patient or the wrong body part, as well as performing the wrong kind of surgery on a given patient. Other surgical errors include leaving a foreign object behind inside the patient.(7)

An example of a surgical error involving a medical device includes using one or more contaminated instruments. A patient could develop a serious infection as a result.(8)

A case management error is a medication mistake, for example. The error could be incorrect dosage, the wrong medication entirely, or the wrong delivery method, such as a pill rather than an injection.(9)

Objects Left in Your Body

Foreign objects may be left inside a patient following surgery. These objects are sometimes called retained surgical bodies.(10)

Experiencing complications from a surgical error? Contact us for a free consultation about your legal options.

Get a Free Case Review

Examples of retained surgical bodies include surgical sponges, clamps, retractors, drains, and electrodes. These foreign objects can be life-threatening when left behind inside patients. As a result, patients may have to undergo another surgical procedure.(11)

Sometimes patients experience complications from these foreign objects right away. In other instances, patients might not realize a foreign object has been left inside them for months or years.(12)

The unfortunate reality is that this surgical error occurs more often than you might think. Some researchers have estimated that roughly 1,500 patients each year are victims of retained surgical bodies.(13)

Possible complications of retained surgical bodies include:

  • Inflammation
  • Severe infections
  • Adhesions
  • Perforation of internal organs
  • Device migration
  • Internal bleeding
  • Pain

 Surgery may be the only way to resolve some complications.(14)

Infections from Surgery

Patients undergoing surgical procedures also risk developing an infection. Sometimes the infection originates at the surgical site.(15)

Infections of any kind can lead to longer hospital stays, additional medical or surgical procedures and lab work, and greater medical expenses.(17)

According to some researchers, surgical site infections occurring within a month following a surgical procedure contribute greatly to life-threatening complications or death. Some infections affect only the skin around an incision while others can affect deeper tissues and internal organs.(16)

Infections of any kind can lead to longer hospital stays, additional medical or surgical procedures and lab work, and greater medical expenses.(17)

Falls During Surgery

When you think of surgical errors, you might not consider the possibility of a patient falling off the operating table. However, this really does happen.

A fall from an operating table might seem close to impossible when you first think about it. Maybe what comes to mind is a flat table-like surface.

However, operating tables are complex medical devices, and they tilt. Researchers of one study offered a suggestion for making an operating table safer. They suggested adding supplemental posts to stabilize patients when surgeons need to adjust the tilting mechanism of the operating table.(18)

The authors acknowledge that when patients fall off the operating table, the consequences can be particularly horrendous. In some cases, patients have died as a result.(19)

At the very least, falls off operating tables can result in injury, as well as prolonged hospital stays.(20)

Four prescription medication bottles

Medication Errors During Surgery

Medication errors right before, during, and after surgery are more common than you might think. According to an article published in the HARVARDgazette, medication errors of one kind or another happen 50% of the time. That is one out of every two surgeries.(21)

In that Harvard study, researchers concluded that nearly 80% of the medication errors could have been prevented. Examples of medication errors included incorrect labeling, incorrect dosage, and failed oversight in administering a medication to improve a patient’s vital signs.(22)

Operation on the Wrong Body Part or Patient

We have probably all heard at least one shocking story in which a surgeon performed a procedure on a patient’s left body part when it should have been the right, or vice versa.

Maybe the patient’s left arm was amputated instead of the right. Or maybe a woman’s right breast was removed instead of the cancerous left breast.

However, the possibility for surgical errors on patients does not stop there. In some cases, a surgeon performed the wrong procedure on a patient or performed a surgical procedure on the wrong patient entirely.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these types of surgical errors are called “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors,” also referred to as WSPEs. The agency cited several examples:(23)

  • A surgeon removed the right side of a woman’s vulva instead of the left; the cancerous growth was on the left side.
  • Neurosurgeons may operate on the wrong part, or level, of a patient’s spine.
  • A surgeon performed a cardiac procedure on the wrong patient; the patients involved had similar last names.

Hospitals may have taken measures to prevent these types of surgical errors. However, severe surgical errors still occur.(24)

Graphic of a scalpel

We have probably all heard at least one shocking story in which a surgeon performed a procedure on a patient’s left body part when it should have been the right, or vice versa.

Victims of Surgical Error Horror Stories Deserve Compensation

Unfortunately, many of the horror stories you hear about surgical error are true. Here are some of the cases our attorneys have won for our clients. Although the situations these families faced were terrible, we hope the compensation we fought for helps them feel they have received some justice.

Dying from Surgery Due to Faulty Equipment

In one very sad case, we won $1.2 million for a young woman who went for what she thought would be a routine tummy tuck. Following surgery, she developed a blood clot in her lungs. Within a week, she died.

We discovered that the surgeon used a faulty piece of surgical equipment. Because blood clots are a risk linked to surgery, surgeons routinely use a type of medical device to prevent this from happening. During this woman’s surgery, the surgeon relied on a used piece of equipment he bought online. The device failed and she died from complications.

“It is outrageous to think an experienced, qualified surgeon would purchase a used piece of medical equipment off the Internet,” said Allan Zelikovic, senior attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg. “There is no way of ensuring that device was safe and effective. To even think of using that device on a patient is incomprehensible.”

Surgery Leads to Permanent Disability

Mr. Zelikovic and his team were also instrumental in getting a substantial financial settlement for a man whose surgery was botched. It ruined his life.

Our client underwent brain surgery. During the surgery “something bad happened — exactly what, no one would say. Not the doctor, not the nurses, not anyone. They all went silent and offered no explanations,” explained his wife.

As a result, the patient suffered serious brain damage. To this day, he is permanently disabled. He cannot speak or walk.

But the settlement W&L was able to negotiate allowed him and his wife to pay off their creditors and have money to live on.

Surgical wounds with bandages

Post-Surgery Infection Almost Kills You

We were also able to help a woman who suffered repeated complications following misdiagnoses and surgical mistakes. She sought treatment at several hospitals and developed an infection that nearly cost her her life.

Initially, the woman sought medical treatment for an undiagnosed illness. At one hospital, part of her treatment included surgery. Following the surgery, the woman became very sick. An infection nearly killed her.

Mr. Zelikovic was able to negotiate her a settlement that would let her buy the house of her dreams. The attorneys at W&L cannot restore your health, but they can get you the compensation you deserve for the medical and surgical mistakes you were subjected to.

Dying Because You Did Not Receive Necessary Surgery

Were you or a loved one injured during surgery because of a surgical error? Speak to an experienced attorney for a free consultation.

(800) 476-6070

The team of W&L attorneys, led by Mr. Zelikovic, was able to negotiate a $1.975 million medical malpractice settlement for a woman who died from a ruptured appendix.

The family of a wife and mother sought compensation on her behalf. She had gone for medical care due to abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. One medical professional after another misdiagnosed her condition.

A surgeon consulted with the woman and determined she did not need an operation. Ultimately, the woman died from a ruptured appendix because she did not receive the surgery she needed.

If the surgeon had performed surgery, he probably would have been able to save her life. Our W&L attorneys sued the doctors and hospital on the grounds that they were negligent. We won compensation for our client’s family because she did not get treatment that followed the necessary standard of care.

Surgical Error Attorneys

If you or a loved one underwent a surgical procedure and experienced significant harm as a result of one or more surgical errors, Weitz & Luxenberg can help you. We have been representing clients injured from surgical errors for more than 30 years.

We also have a history of winning surgical error lawsuits. Over the years, we have secured billions of dollars on behalf of our clients who have been seriously injured from a surgeon’s oversight or other mistakes related to surgical procedures and medical devices.

Your first step in getting the justice and compensation you deserve is contacting an experienced surgical error attorney, such as one of our medical malpractice attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg. As a national law firm, we have attorneys available across the United States who can advise you of your legal options.

Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be able to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, as well as lost wages and medical expenses. We are prepared to offer you the expertise you deserve.

Surgical error lawsuits can seem overwhelming. At Weitz & Luxenberg, we can assure you we will be with you every step of the way.

Get Compensation for Physical and Emotional Issues

You may be facing not only serious physical challenges related to your medical condition but also emotional and financial ones. However, you do not have to face these challenges alone.

We urge you to contact us now. An initial consultation is absolutely free.

For your convenience, feel free to phone us at (800) 476-6070 or complete the form available on this web page. One of our representatives will be in touch with you shortly.

Although a past record does not guarantee future success, Weitz & Luxenberg has the experience and resources necessary to stand up to the large hospitals and surgeons who work there.

We fight for the people who need and deserve our help when facing the medical establishments with all their resources.

  1. Mehtsun, W.T., et al. (2013, April). Surgical never events in the United States. Retrieved from http://www.surgjournal.com/article/S0039-6060%2812%2900623-X/fulltext
  2. Ibid.
  3. PSNet. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017, June). Never Events. Retrieved from https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primers/primer/3/never-events
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Zejnullahu, V.A., et al. (2017, February 15). Retained Surgical Foreign Bodies after Surgery. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5320916/
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Reichman, D.E., & Greenberg, J.A. (2009, Fall). Reducing Surgical Site Infections: A Review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2812878/
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Toussaint, R.J., et al. (2013, October). Preventing falls in the operating room: a technique tip for safely tilting the operating table. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23863398
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. McGreevey, S. (2015, October 25). Medication errors found in 1 out of 2 surgeries. Retrieved from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/10/medication-errors-found-in-1-out-of-2-surgeries/
  22. Ibid.
  23. PSNet. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2017, June). Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, and Wrong-Patient Surgery. Retrieved from https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primers/primer/18/wrong-site-wrong-procedure-and-wrong-patient-surgery
  24. Ibid.

Get the Help You Need Today

Free Case Review