Surgical Errors Law

What is Surgical Error Law?

Surgical Errors Law refers to a subset of Medical Malpractice related to injuries resulting during surgical procedures. The area focuses largely on surgeons failing to give adequate information to the patient or the patient's family to allow for informed consent, performing unnecessary procedures due to negligence or pecuniary interests, performing procedures for which the surgeon is not qualified, performing a procedure on the wrong patient or wrong body part, or other mistakes made during surgery.

Surgery Errors as Medical Malpractice

Surgical errors can be medical malpractice if the surgeon's performance falls below the accepted standard of care for a reasonably competent surgeon under similar circumstances, and the patient is injured as a result. Although some surgical errors are the result of a physician's actual incompetence, most result from poor planning before surgery or failure to properly communicate with the patient or his/her family about the possible risks associated with a procedure.

Some estimate that there are nearly 100,000 injuries from surgical errors every year in the United States. Of course, the nature of surgery means that many errors may go unreported or some events may be blamed on surgical error that are not, making these numbers very rough.

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Doctors and other medical professionals usually have standard procedures they follow before, during, and after any medical procedure. Nevertheless, a breakdown in these procedures can lead to injuries. For example, if medical staff lack sufficient information about a patient's medical history, including reactions to medications, they may not be able to adequately evaluate the risks of a particular surgery on a specific patient. Another common problem is miscommunication, where one practitioner misidentifies a patient, marks the wrong area for surgery, confuses medications, etc.

Doctors and medical staff, particularly in emergency rooms, are often overworked and may suffer from fatigue. This tiredness can lead to an almost intoxicated state that affects judgment and motor skills. This can be deadly during a surgical procedure. This can also lead to neglectful behavior, such as failing to properly sterilize instruments or use instruments less well-suited to the procedure.

Very rarely, surgical errors may be the result of actual incompetence. Surgeons undergo years of study and training, but even this cannot guarantee that all doctors will be sufficiently skilled to perform a particular procedure.

More Information

For more information about Surgical Errors Laws, please see the materials listed below. You can also contact an attorney in your area that can answer your questions and assist you with your legal claims by visiting our Law Firms page and searching by your location.


Surgical Errors Law - US

  • ABA - Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability

    The Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability is devoted to preserving and protecting the legal rights and remedies of persons injured while obtaining medical treatment and care. The Committee monitors policies that promote protecting the public as consumers of medical and health care services at the federal level regarding medical liability.

  • Nora Institute for Surgical Patient Safety

    The Institute was founded to * Assist with further efforts by the American College of Surgeons in the area of surgical patient safety. * To inform and educate patients and surgeons about the practice and principles of surgical patient safety. * To monitor the legislative process at both federal and the state levels

  • Office of the Surgeon General (OSG)

    The Office of the Surgeon General, under the direction of the Surgeon General, oversees the operations of the 6,500-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service and provides support for the Surgeon General in the accomplishment of her other duties. The Office is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Wrong Diagnosis - Medical Malpractice and Surgical Errors/Complications is one of the world’s leading providers of online medical health information. The site is an independent, objective source of factual, mainstream health information for both consumers and health professionals. provides a free health-information service to help people understand their health better, offering crucial and factual health information that is otherwise difficult to find.

Organizations Related to Surgical Errors Law

  • AHRQ Patient Safety Network (PSNet)

    AHRQ Patient Safety Network (PSNet) is a national web-based resource featuring the latest news and essential resources on patient safety. The site offers weekly updates of patient safety literature, news, tools, and meetings ("What’s New"), and a vast set of carefully annotated links to important research and other information on patient safety ("The Collection").

  • American Board of Surgery

    The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 to certify surgeons who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge. Surgeons certified by the ABS, known as diplomates, have completed at least five years of surgical residency training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS.

  • American College of Surgeons

    The American College of Surgeons “Patients as Partners in Surgical Care” site contains educational information to help you and your family become informed about your operation and surgical care. We are working to provide you with the most current information about surgical procedures, diseases, tests, medications and pain management from government and professional sources to support you in participating in your surgical care.

  • American Medical Association (AMA)

    Since 1847 the American Medical Association (AMA) has had one mission: to promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Today, the core strategy used to carry out this mission is our concerted effort to help doctors help patients. We do this by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional and public health issues.

  • Operation Patient Access

    Operation Patient Access is the overarching communications campaign that will serve as the advocacy platform in 2009 and 2010 for America’s surgical community, including patients, surgeons and other providers – with the ultimate goal of bringing into focus the urgent issues facing access to quality surgical care.

Publications Related to Surgical Errors Law

  • AHRQ WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web)

    AHRQ WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web) is the online journal and forum on patient safety and health care quality. This site features expert analysis of medical errors reported anonymously by our readers, interactive learning modules on patient safety ("Spotlight Cases"), and Perspectives on Safety.

  • Dead By Mistake

    Every year approximately 200,000 American patients die preventable deaths as tools to make them safer go unused. Patients are in the dark about facilities’ safety records, yet only fragments of the government's wealth of information is shared.

  • Medical - Surgery Malpractice

    Surgery malpractice and surgical negligence can occur in a variety of ways, from anesthesia errors to a mistake by the surgeon. Patients who have suffered an injury due to surgical negligence have a legal right to pursue a medical malpractice claim for all damages associated with the error. See the articles below for details on some of the most common issues of surgical malpractice, as well as learn about the legal and economic issues surrounding medical malpractice complaints.

Articles on Related to Surgical Errors Law

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