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What are some common surgical errors?

California patients may hear a list of potential side effects before a doctor prescribes a medication, or a litany of potential complications before a proposed surgical procedure. What they likely do not hear, however, is a list of common mistakes that surgeons have been known to make during operations. Nonetheless, surgical errors do happen, and Californians may wish to be aware of some of the most common mistakes.

Infections are a common source of complications following surgery. While a patient may see this as a normal potential consequence, in fact, many infections are due to the treating medical professionals' poor hygiene, whether nurses, doctors or other staff. Negligent operating room staff who fail to properly wash their hands or sanitize equipment can cause serious complications for a patient.

Frighteningly, one issue that arises repeatedly is that of surgical equipment left inside a patient. Most commonly, the item left inside a patient is a surgical sponge, but there have also been cases in which a scalpel, clamp, or even a pair of scissors has been left inside a patient's body and led to complications. A careless surgeon may also operate on the wrong patient or perform a wrong-site surgery, both of which can obviously lead to major, life-altering consequences.

As patients are unconscious during surgery, they rely on hospital staff to keep them safe during the procedure. Sometimes, though, hospital workers fail to properly secure a patient to an operating table, which could result in a patient falling, leading to additional injuries.

A person who has been at the wrong end of one of these surgical errors may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the offending doctors, hospital staff or the hospital itself. An attorney may be able to offer guidance and advocacy in an attempt to recover compensation for damages suffered.

Source:, "Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year," Laura J. Martin, MD, accessed Feb. 18, 2016

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