What are the Most Common Surgical Errors?

The Top Five Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are one of the most common—and severe—forms of medical malpractice that occur each year, costing an estimated $1.3 billion in payouts nationwide. While these errors can vary in severity, thousands of patients have to seek additional treatments each year because of a medical practitioner's carelessness.

You may be surprised to find that many of the most common kinds of surgical errors are incredibly preventable, urging the need for extra attention by surgeons and other hospital staff. Here are the top five:

1. Nerve Damage

It's estimated that anywhere from 10-50% of patients may experience neuropathic pain or nerve damage following surgery, making it one of the most common surgical errors. Among these patients, the highest rates of nerve damage were found in amputees, mastectomy and thoracotomy patients.

2. Foreign Objects

Also known as "retained surgical bodies" (RSB), foreign objects left in the body following surgery occur in an estimated 1500 cases each year. Commonly, these are sponges, gauze, or surgical instruments that may go unnoticed for years following until the patient experiences severe pain or finds a mass near the surgical site.

3. Anesthesia Errors

A study published by the Southern Medical Association found that 17,116 anesthetic errors were reported over seven years. In this span, at least 250 people died due to complications resulting from incorrect anesthetic administering. Although these instances have shown to decrease over time, patients with preexisting conditions may be at a greater risk of complications.

4. Wrong Surgical Site

There are an estimated 40 wrong-site surgical errors in the United States each week, despite the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations implementing a "universal protocol" in 2004 meant to reduce these kinds of errors. Even since its implementation, an estimated 1,300 to 2,700 wrong-site errors occur annually.

5. Wrong Patient

Despite being the most infrequent surgical error on this list, performing the wrong surgery on the wrong patient has shown to occur in about 0.3% of cases. However, these errors result in a 7.7% fatality rate and 26.9% permanent injury rate, showing significant consequences for this mistake.

Albuquerque Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Routine surgeries should not force you into years of costly medical treatments due to practitioner error. If you or a loved one experience one of these or another kind of surgical error and are seeking compensation, call (505) 906-6774 or fill out this short form on our website to get in touch with a member of the James Wood Law team.

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