Overview of Surgical Errors


     By Davis Levin Livingston

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Surgical errors occur in many forms, such as operating on the wrong body part, puncturing healthy organs or failing to properly monitor the patient. Such errors could lead to additional medical treatment or surgery, time off from work and pain and suffering.

Surgical errors, which fall under the category of medical malpractice, can be caused by many things, including a lack of communication, improper medication and defective or unsanitary equipment.

If you have fallen victim to a surgical error, the remedy may include additional medical treatment or even surgery to correct the error, which could lead to extensive medical bills, time off from work and additional pain and suffering. You may be able to recover your losses by consulting with a Hawaii medical malpractice lawyer, who can help you gather the necessary evidence to build a solid case.

Common Types of Surgical Errors

A patient facing surgery could be at risk for the following type of surgical errors:

• Anesthesia errors – these involve improper dosage calculations and improper monitoring of the patient. The result could be brain damage, nerve damage or death.
• Medication errors – too much or too little medication can have adverse effects on a patient. For example, if you have been taking a blood thinner such as Coumadin, your surgical team should have had you adjust your medication before the surgery or they should have other precautions in place, as blood thinners can increase bleeding during surgery.
• Wrong-site surgery – this surgical error happens when doctors operate on the wrong body part. Perhaps your right knee was replaced when it’s your left knee that was ravaged by osteoarthritis.
• Injuries – a slip of the scalpel could lead to the puncture of a healthy organ.
• Lost implements – with this common surgical error, sponges and other tools could mistakenly get left behind inside the patient.

A surgical error that results in unnecessary pain and suffering calls for the experience of a Hawaii medical malpractice attorney, who will work hard in an effort to help you recover damages for hospitalization and medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and maybe even punitive damages.

Parties Liable for a Surgical Error

Several parties could be at fault for your surgical error, including your surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse, hospital and pharmacist.

The hospital can be held liable for the negligence of its staff, which includes doctors, surgeons, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants, as well as anyone responsible for sterilizing surgical equipment.

If your surgeon is considered to be an independent contractor, rather than a hospital employee, the hospital could be liable for granting hospital privileges to an incompetent surgeon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Davis Levin Livingston
Davis Levin Livingston, located in downtown Honolulu, is a firm of trial lawyers handling litigation matters on all of the Hawaiian islands and on the mainland United States.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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