If you have an upcoming surgery scheduled, you probably have been a bit fearful about it. You know every surgery comes with risks. Even routine procedures sometimes come with complications. But what if something worse happens? What if your doctor makes a critical surgical error?

Surgical errors

At least 4,000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States. Some of those errors will leave patients with lifelong problems or at least worsen their condition. Some of the most common surgical errors include the following:

  • Anesthesia errors: Anesthesia errors are among the most dangerous and most deadly errors that occur in surgery. If a patient receives too much anesthesia, the patient can get too little oxygen, which can cause brain damage and death.
  • Leaving foreign objects in someone’s body. Far too often, surgeons leave gauze, pads, clamps or scalpels in patients’ bodies, which can cause severe pain, infections or worse.
  • Operating on the wrong body part. Unfortunately, sometimes a patient needs surgery on their left knee, but the surgery happens on the right knee. Or in one case, a patient with a diseased right kidney had her healthy kidney removed.
  • Perforation of the bowel: This can occur during surgery when a surgeon removes a polyp from the colon or even during a routine colonoscopy. When the bowel is cut, bacteria can leak into other organs and cause sepsis and even death.
  • Laceration of the bladder or colon: A surgeon accidently could lacerate a bladder or colon during a woman’s hysterectomy or tubal ligation. A lacerated bladder or colon could lead to excessive bleeding, possibly leading to developing a blood clot in the leg, which could dangerously travel to the leg.
  • Nerve damage: If a surgeon accidently cuts a nerve or more than one during a surgery, that can cause infection, chronic pain and a long-term disability.

What to do after a serious surgical error

If you discover your doctor made a serious surgical error during your surgery, you should consult an attorney. You might have a case for medical malpractice if the surgical error caused you additional harm.

You often have to be your best advocate when you receive medical care. Holding a doctor accountable for their surgical mistakes is one way to do that.