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Shocking Surgical Error Statistics by Florida Physicians


Whether you have made arrangements for elective surgery or need to undergo a procedure for emergency reasons, you know that there are risks involved. Still, you trust your surgeon and surgical team to protect your overall health while taking corrective action to address a serious medical condition. Unfortunately, surgical errors are still a threat. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) categorizes them into two major types of mistakes:

  1. Errors from omissions, where a physician should have taken a specific action and did not; or,
  2. Errors in the commission of an action that was improper and should not have been undertaken.

Any procedure comes with risks, but you should never have to risk your life or health due to negligence by a surgeon. If you suffered harm, it is essential to discuss your legal rights with a Florida surgical errors attorney. Some statistics on surgical “never events” should put things into perspective.

Retained Surgical and Foreign Bodies: One of the most horrific mistakes is leaving an object inside the patient after performing a procedure, but data on paid malpractice claims indicates that this surgical mistake is a common one. Almost half of all med mal cases alleging errors by a surgeon, OR staff, or hospital is due to a retained foreign body. Often, the object is a surgical sponge or other instrument, and the error is usually linked to abdominal surgery. 

Wrong Procedure: Approximately one-quarter of all surgical mistakes occur due to the physician performing an improper procedure on the patient. This type of error leads to permanent injury for 55 percent of victims, and will almost always require a follow up procedure to conduct the proper surgery. 

Wrong Surgical Site: Performing a procedure on the wrong part of the body is the basis for 24 percent of surgery mistakes. More than 40 percent of patients suffer permanent injuries as a result. 

Wrong Patient Surgical Errors: In rare cases, less than 1 percent of all med mal claims alleging surgical mistakes, a physician might perform a procedure on the wrong patient. 

How Surgical Errors Happen: Negligence is the primary cause behind these mistakes, but there are specific causes and errors by health care providers. Examples include:

  • Understaffing of OR and other support personnel, creating an unacceptable patient-provider ratio;
  • Surgeons working inappropriately long hours;
  • A lack of communication and/or organization among the surgeon, medical team, nurses, and administration;
  • Surgeons or staff engaging in “distracted doctoring,” such as by taking calls, responding to text messages;
  • Chart switching;
  • Failure to provide proper post-operative care, particularly with respect to potential infections; and,
  • Many others.

Contact a Florida Surgical Errors Lawyer About Your Rights 

If you suffered harm because of a mistake by a surgeon, hospital, or other health care provider, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. To learn more about your rights and the legal process in a medical malpractice case, please contact a Miami medical malpractice attorney at Freidin Brown, P.A. We can schedule a free consultation to review your case at our offices.



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