Surgical errors are often called “never events,” events that should never happen. Surgical errors are a form of medical malpractice, or when the doctor in Greensboro, North Carolina, falls below a basic level of care. Stats show surgical errors are still prevalent in the United States at around 4,000 cases per year.
Types of surgical errors
Research shows surgical errors made up about 25% of medical malpractice claims and the second most filed claim. Wrong site surgery occurs in 1 out of 112,000 patients, or operating on the wrong body part or side.
Another common error is surgical instruments left inside the body, occurring in 1 out of 5,500 surgeries. Sponges are the most common tool left inside the body, followed by drain tubes, scalpels, needles, and gauze. Tools left inside the body can cause infections, lacerations of vital tissue and organs, and internal bleeding.
Anesthesia errors include administering too much or too little, which may cause patient awareness, using the wrong kind of anesthesia, and delayed anesthesia. The doctor may not give the patient pre-op instructions for anesthesia or the patient may not be monitored properly.
Elements needed for medical malpractice
Not all surgical errors count as medical malpractice, and the patient must prove the doctor was negligent. The doctor must have owed the patient a duty of care to uphold a safe and reasonable level of care. The duty of care occurs when the patient asked the doctor to perform the procedures and the doctor agreed to it.
The element of a doctor-patient must exist, which is easily proven with medical records showing the treatment course. The doctor must have breached the duty of care, which caused the patient actual harm, and isn’t just a matter of the patient not being satisfied with results.
Even when all protocols are followed, a patient can suffer harm, and doctors are only human. However, if a patient feels neglect was the cause, the patient could have a case.