It's About Justice

A leading medical malpractice and personal injury law firm for people
harmed through negligence.

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Articles
  4.  » Common types of surgical errors in MI

Common types of surgical errors in MI

Patients entering the operating room are at risk of leaving the procedure as the victim of a surgical error.

Getting prepared for a surgical procedure is often nerve wracking. Although most patients feel as though they are in good hands when entering the operating room, not all patients leave in better shape than they arrived in. Surgical errors occur more often than some people may think. While enhanced technology and innovative techniques may help to reduce the likelihood of these events, people are still in danger of becoming a victim of medical mistakes in the operating room.

Retained surgical items

Surgical items may leave the operating room inside of the patient’s operating site. Surgical sponges are most commonly left behind. Surgeons use these gauze to soak up bodily fluids and blood, helping them see the operating site more clearly. As the sponges become saturated, they may become hard to see against organs and other tissues. If surgical staff does not properly account for each gauze and piece of equipment, there is the risk of leaving an item behind. These retained items can cause severe infections within the patient.

Operating on the wrong patient or site

A study published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery found that in 1 out of 100,000 surgeries involve a doctor operating on the wrong body part or on the wrong person. For example, doctors may replace the right knee instead of the left knee or perform a procedure that was meant for another patient. As a result, the patient is forced to recover from the wrong procedure, and must go through another procedure to treat the initial injury or condition. This increases the risk for infection and forces the patient to go through more pain and suffering. Patients may have to miss more work to recover and go without paychecks during this time.


A significant number of errors may be contributed to miscommunication in the operating room before, during and after the procedure is performed. Physicians not communicating with one another, medical staff or with the patient can lead to a preventable mistake. Surgeons should make a habit of speaking with each patient before entering the OR and verify information, such as patient allergies, what procedure is being performed and on what body part.

Recovering from a medical mistake

Victims of medical mistakes may go through a significant amount of pain and suffering. A medical malpractice attorney may be helpful in listening to the details of the case, organizing a case and exploring your legal options.

Practice Areas