Best Law Firms
American Board of Trial Advocates
2010 Street Fighter of The Year Award Finalists
Irish Legal 100
The Best Lawyers in America
Santa Clara County Bar
Super Lawyers
The National Trial Lawyers
California Lawyer
Top One
Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association

Surgical Errors

San Jose Medical Malpractice Attorney Serving Patients Injured by Surgical Errors

You may have seen horror stories about surgeons who amputate the wrong limb or remove the wrong body part on the evening news. While your case may not be that extreme, an injury resulting from a surgical error justifies immediate legal action.

At Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., our experienced San Francisco Bay Area legal team is dedicated to recovering the compensation you deserve for your surgery malpractice claim. If you or a loved one were a victim of surgical negligence, please contact a lawyer for a free case evaluation.

Was My Injury Caused by Surgical Negligence?

Negligence in surgical procedures may occur during the operation itself, during diagnostic tests, in preparation for surgery, or during post-surgical care. The patient’s health and even life are on the line during surgery, so surgical teams must be fully prepared and vigilant at every step. Surgical errors may result from a wide range of negligence, such as:

  • Unnecessary surgery as a result of a negligent misdiagnosis
  • Unnecessary delay in critical surgery
  • Surgery in the wrong location or on the wrong side of the body
  • Surgery on the wrong patient
  • Leaving surgical tools inside the patient
  • Internal injuries from negligent surgery
  • C-section injuries
  • Improper administration of anesthesia
  • Prescribing the wrong medications
  • Failure to properly monitor a patient during anesthesia, surgery, and recovery
  • Improper post-surgical care and infections
What Causes Surgical Errors?

Surgery always carries risks, but if a surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse, technician, or other health care provider is not performing with the necessary care, it can have devastating consequences. Surgeons need a high level of education and skill to operate. Medical professionals should have extensive training in the relevant types of surgical tasks. Members of the team require proper experience, supervision, and to communicate clearly. Surgical teams and hospitals must be prepared with clear procedures to protect patient safety. This includes everything, including who sterilizes the tools, prepares the incision site, performs the operation, and monitors the patient.

Heath care providers may cause serious mistakes during surgery when they are not performing up to the required medical standards. Some common reasons that surgeons and other medical professionals may act negligently include:

  • Extreme fatigue or illness
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Inexperience or lack of proper supervision
  • Improper pre-operative planning and preparation
  • Lack of communication during surgery
  • Distraction or carelessness

Surgery can be intense and complicated, involving a lot of people, tools, and decisions made under pressure. However, you should not have to suffer because a medical professional acted negligently. Our highly experienced attorneys are well-versed in both the legal and medical aspects of surgery malpractice cases. We can analyze your claim for potential negligence and help you seek the compensation you deserve.

Hemorrhaging During Surgery and Negligence

Surgeries carry inherent risks, but surgical negligence can make an operation deadly. The most common cause of fatality in the operating room is hemorrhaging, or continuous bleeding. When patients rapidly lose a large amount of blood, surgeons and staff must be quick to implement a well-planned response to stop the bleeding. If severe hemorrhaging continues, the patient may suffer many serious – often deadly – complications such as cardiac arrest, critically low blood pressure or oxygen in the body, or permanent injuries to the brain or spinal cord.

In a survey of surgical procedures with serious complications, researchers found that errors during the operation contributed to patient hemorrhaging, including:

  • 27% involved inappropriate judgments by surgeons, anesthesiologists, or the surgical team
  • 26% were caused by a lack of necessary skills
  • 34% involved poor communication between surgeons and anesthesiologists
  • 3% involved failure to recognize bleeding during an endoscopy
  • 3% were caused by poor use of surgical tools

In addition, issues with anesthesia made patient hemorrhaging less manageable, including shortage in emergency anesthesiologists, delays in starting transfusions or ordering blood products, or shortage of transfusion instruments.

Surgical Injuries to Internal Organs

Hemorrhaging is the most common internal injury in surgery, but it is not the only one. Injuries to a patient’s organs may occur when they are perforated by a surgical tool or deprived of adequate blood flow or oxygen. Organs may be deprived of blood or oxygen for a variety of reasons, such as adverse reactions to medications or anesthesia or to stroke or cardiac arrest.

Internal injuries may also occur when a surgeon is operating and punctures a nearby organ. Organ perforation is a risk with many surgeries, but when a surgeon is operating without the required level of skill or attention to detail, they may cause serious damage. For example, a surgeon may cause a gastrointestinal (GI) or bowel perforation while operating on the abdomen. A gastroenterologist may also pierce the GI tract during an endoscopy or colonoscopy. When the GI tract is perforated, its contents can leak out and cause infection, inflammation, and sepsis, which is potentially deadly.

Nerve Damage from Surgery

It is estimated that up to 50 percent of surgical patients suffer from nerve damage during their procedure. Nerve damage and pain may result from anesthesia, medication, positions during the surgery that compress the nerve, or damage from a surgeon’s tool. A patient may be left to suffer man injuries, such as:

  • Ongoing pain
  • Inflammation
  • Sensory loss
  • Problems with motor skills
  • Organ damage
  • Paralysis
  • Emotional distress
  • Depression

While some nerve damage may be unavoidable in critical surgeries, you should never have to suffer the consequences of nerve injuries caused by the negligence of a surgeon or other care provider. Our seasoned medical malpractice lawyer is dedicated to holding negligent surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals and hospitals responsible when they cause avoidable injuries through their negligence.

Surgical Tools Left in the Patient After Surgery

It is estimated that there are 1,500 surgical procedures a year where “foreign bodies” are left in a surgery patient. The most common surgical instrument left in the body is the sponge, but all types of tools may be left behind including clamps, retractors, electrodes, or drains. When surgical tools are left in the patient, it is important for doctors to identify the potential problem, order diagnostic tests, and remove the instrument without undue delay. The longer tools are the left in the patient, the more harm they may cause.

Most often, surgical instruments are left in the abdomen or pelvis, but they may remain in any surgery site and cause ongoing pain. Surgical instruments can also migrate through the body, causing pain and internal destruction as they go. Some typical symptoms of retained surgical instruments include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Abdominal tumors
  • Abscess
  • Intestinal obstruction or perforation
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Damage to organs
  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Inflammation

Cases involving surgical instruments left in the patient can be complicated. Where one patient has clear symptoms, another may only have general discomfort. In addition, symptoms may be immediate or they may take months or years before becoming noticeable. To further complicate matters, doctors may misdiagnose a patient’s symptoms and order unnecessary and possibly harmful treatments for the wrong illness.

Santa Clara County and San Francisco Bay Area Lawyers Helping Patients of Surgical Injuries

Surgical errors may occur because surgeons are overworked or inexperienced. They may also happen because of poor communication between the surgical team and other health professionals. No matter the cause, our attorneys are dedicated to holding the responsible parties liable. Once we have determined that you have a viable medical malpractice claim, our lawyers will work hard to secure the results you and your family deserve. Contact us online or by calling our San Jose law firm at (408) 289-1417.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.