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What Are the Surgical Errors that Can Lead to a Medical Malpractice Case?

medical malpractice lawyer hazlet nj

A surgical error can lead to a medical malpractice claim when the surgeon’s performance falls below the applicable standard of care in the patient’s specific case. The standard of care is often described as the acts that another surgeon of similar training and experience would have taken under identical circumstances. A patient can be harmed by a variety of surgical errors, such as the following common surgical errors. 

Surgery on the Wrong Patient

In rare cases, a patient’s chart can get switched with another patient who is also going into surgery or may be inaccurately recorded. As a result, a surgeon may end up performing surgery on the wrong patient or may perform the wrong surgical procedure. The patient is thereby harmed by having to undergo an unnecessary surgery and by the delay in having to wait to undergo the correct surgical procedure. 

Surgery on the Wrong Site

In other cases, a surgeon may perform the correct surgical procedure on the correct patient but may perform the procedure on the wrong part of the body. This error can occur when a patient’s chart is incorrectly recorded or if a surgeon becomes distracted or careless and begins the procedure at the wrong site.

Organ/Tissue Damage

A surgeon can commit an error by accidentally cutting, puncturing, or perforating organs or tissues, such as nerves. This can lead to permanent damage or serious health consequences.

Leaving Objects in Patients

Surgical teams can inadvertently leave equipment or other materials inside of a patient. This usually occurs when the surgical teams fails to account for all the equipment and materials that were used during the surgery. This surgical error is often not discovered until much later when the patient begins to suffer complications. The patient is often forced to undergo a second surgery to remove the foreign material.


If a member of the surgical team fails to properly sterilize themselves before surgery or ensure that all surgical tools are sterilized, a patient can suffer an infection. This can lead to additional medical treatment to fight the infection or complications if the patient is suffering from a compromised immune system. 

Why Surgical Errors Occur

Surgical errors can occur for many different reasons. Some of the most common reasons for surgical errors include:

  • Lack of training or experience: If a surgeon does not have sufficient surgical training or experience or sufficient training and experience with the particular procedure being performed, it can easily lead to errors such as wrong site surgery or organ/tissue damage.
  • Lack of planning: A surgical team must have a detailed plan for any surgery, including considering all the complications that may occur for the surgery and ensuring that resources (including additional surgeons) are on hand to address those complications. The surgeon and surgical team should also ensure that they have a complete medical history from the patient.
  • Lack of communication: Surgical teams are required to have good communication to ensure a successful surgical procedure. If a team has poor communication, it can lead to wrong patient or wrong site errors or foreign objects or materials left inside a patient, or the surgeon may not be properly informed when a patient is suffering distress or complications during the procedure.
  • Fatigue: Surgeons and surgical teams often work long hours; when they are fatigued, it is more likely that they will commit mistakes.
  • Substance Abuse: Due to the stress of the medical profession, surgeons may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress or fatigue of their job. 
  • Carelessness or neglect: Surgical errors can occur when surgeons fail to properly follow all required procedures, taking shortcuts to finish a procedure as quickly as possible. 

Contact Drazin & Warshaw P.C. to Discuss Your Red Bank Medical Malpractice Case Today

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Red Bank personal injury attorneys at Drazin & Warshaw P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in Tuckerton, Barnegat Township, Toms River, Brick and throughout Ocean County, Monmouth County and Middlesex County, New Jersey. Call Drazin and Warshaw, P.C. today at (732) 576-8860 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 25 Reckless Pl., Red Bank, NJ 07701, and we also have offices in Hazlet and Brick.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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