Causes of Wrongful Death: Surgical Errors

Surgeon upset after mistake killed patientPeople undergo surgery to make their health better, not worse. However, sometimes, healthcare workers are negligent and cause patients harm. Sadly, some patients even die as a result of such carelessness on the part of doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, and hospitals.

While some surgeries are planned out months in advance, others are emergency surgeries that are done for lifesaving purposes. In either event, patients put their trust in the hands of their doctors and other medical professionals at the hospital or medical facility. Unfortunately, sometimes that trust is broken when healthcare workers act negligently and make critical life-threatening mistakes.

When this happens and families lose a loved one, they want answers, and rightfully so. Sadly, there is no answer that can bring back a loved one, but there are answers that can help explain how acts of medical malpractice occur and why a family may have a right to a wrongful death claim. Some acts of negligence surrounding a surgical procedure can include:

  • Accidental lacerations and punctures. Sometimes a surgeon’s hand slips and a knife or surgical instrument causes an injury to a vessel or organ close to the surgical site. Consequently, a critical organ may be damaged or a blood vessel or artery may be cut, and a patient may bleed out before the necessary fix is made. While most surgeons are able to successfully stop internal bleeding during a surgery, sometimes complications occur and patients die as a result of a surgeon’s negligence and carelessness. This is especially the case if an accidental cut is not noticed during surgery and a patient endures internal bleeding that goes unnoticed until it is too late.
  • Other mistakes made during surgery. Sometimes surgeons operate on the wrong body part or the wrong site and cause a patient to undergo additional surgeries. Other times, wrong-site surgeries are life-threatening due to the health of the patient. Additionally, sometimes doctors get their patients mixed up and perform the wrong surgery on a patient. This error can obviously have deadly consequences.
  • Keeping patients in the ER waiting too long. If a patient waiting in the emergency room (ER) needs a life-saving surgery but a triage nurse doesn’t evaluate the patient’s illness or injury correctly, the patient won’t get the help he or she needs in a timely manner. The patient may die as a result. Sadly, many emergency rooms are understaffed, which is why patients are often kept waiting in the ER for too long.
  • Post-operative malpractice. Sometimes surgical errors aren’t noticed right away and hemorrhaging can occur following a surgery. When a surgeon fails to recognize post-operative bleeding, a patient can die. This is why the surgeon and nurses at the hospital should be monitoring patients for signs of life-threatening bleeding. Also, patients should be monitored after surgery to preserve respiratory and cardiac stability and to treat other potential problems such as infections. If a post-operative infection occurs, it can cause sepsis (which means that the infection has gotten into the blood stream.) This can cause a patient to go into septic shock, which can cause organ failure and death.

Although all surgeries are known to carry risks, the biggest concern is when medical professionals don’t do their jobs right. When a surgeon makes an error that goes unnoticed, or a nurse fails to monitor a patient for complications following a surgery, a patient can suffer fatal injuries. If you believe your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice in an emergency room, hospital, doctor’s office, or outpatient surgical facility, you may have rights. We will gladly provide you with a free case evaluation and let you know if you have a valid wrongful death case. Please call our law firm today at (703) 591-0067 or Contact Us online.