Injured in an auto accident, medical malpractice, facing criminal charges, or need help with a traffic ticket? Our mission is to form a lasting partnership with every client. Our passion is the people we help and the lives that we help change. So, if you have questions or need assistance—we are here to help.

  1. Home
  2. News
  3. What Are the Different Types of Surgical Errors?

Free Video Consultation
Text Us Now

What Are the Different Types of Surgical Errors?

Every year, 40 to 50 million surgeries are performed in the United States. While the majority of cases go well, 5-15% will be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. 1-4% of patients will lose their lives.

Surgery is something that many of us will have to face at some point in our lives. But medical negligence is something that none of us should experience. Surgical errors can lead to pain, suffering, and even permanent disability and death.

Let’s explore the most common types of surgical errors and what you should do if you’ve been a victim.

What Are Surgical Errors?

Surgical errors are mistakes made by the surgeon during a procedure due to negligence. This surgical negligence can cause:

  • Harm
  • Pain
  • Medical condition to get worse
  • Death

Not all surgeries go according to plan. There is always an element of risk. Patients must give their informed consent before going in for surgery, showing that they accept this risk.

Problems during surgery do not automatically mean that medical negligence has occurred. Surgeons and other medical professionals have a responsibility to do all they can to give their patients the best possible care. They must follow their training and use accepted protocols to provide the highest level of care.

To have a case for surgical negligence, the surgeon must have provided sub-standard care. The errors they have made must amount to medical malpractice.

Types of Surgical Errors

Each surgical error case is unique. The following examples may form the basis for medical claims, depending on the details.


All operations carry the risk of infection. Hospitals should have strict infection control measures in place to reduce this risk. It is possible for a surgeon to cause an infection if he or she uses unsanitary equipment or practices. This can lead to cross-contamination and, in some cases, a serious infection.

Damage to Other Organs

During surgery, surgeons have to take care not to accidentally damage other organs. Organ tissue is very delicate. Inadvertent incisions or puncture wounds could cause serious problems.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can occur during surgery in many ways. This includes:

  • Accidental damage while operating on an adjacent organ/tissue
  • Prolonged pressure on a nerve
  • Errors with injections
  • Errors with anesthetics
  • Incorrect use of equipment

Operating on the Wrong Site

These serious medical errors cause patients to receive completely unnecessary surgery. They also miss out on the surgery that they need. In extreme cases, people have had the wrong limb amputated.

Wrong Patient Surgery

Administrative problems could lead to the surgeon operating on the wrong person. They may also carry out surgery that was completely unnecessary.

Surgical Instruments/Materials Left in Body

It may seem obvious that the surgical team needs to remove all instruments, gauze, clips, and other materials before the wound is sutured. Although should hospitals have strict guidelines for the team to follow, mistakes happen. Having foreign objects inside your body can cause major complications and infections.

The Consequences of Surgical Negligence

In the most serious cases, surgical errors can lead to long-term suffering. Talk to your lawyer about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit if you’re suffering from any of the following conditions.

Aftermath of Infection

In extreme cases, infections can cause sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition. It can also lead to tissue damage and organ failure.

In the US, about 1.2% of all elective surgery patients will develop sepsis while recovering from surgery. This does not mean that sepsis is always the result of medical errors. It’s important to talk to an experienced attorney who will review your medical records and may seek expert advice.

Organ Damage/Internal Bleeding

If the surgeon is not careful, other organs or tissues can be injured during surgery. This can cause internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding can be hard to diagnose. It can cause pain, vomiting, sweating, and changes to breathing, to name just a few symptoms. In severe cases, it can lead to organ failure, coma, and even death.

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage can cause ongoing pain or loss of sensation in a part of the body. This could have a long-term impact on your mobility.

You may be completely or partially paralyzed. In fact, you may need long-term physical therapy. You may have to undergo further surgery to help you regain the level of movement that you had before.

Wrong Site/Patient Injuries

We accept that there may be scars after necessary surgery. But surgery on the wrong site can leave you with scars that are completely unnecessary. This can cause ongoing pain and distress.

Sometimes, the wrong site error is spotted very early on in the surgery. But if the surgery is completed on the wrong site, you may have to deal with unexpected complications. Plus, you’ll still have to undergo surgery on the correct site.

Medical Instruments Left in the Body

Retained instruments can lead to damage to other tissues and organs. Your pain may increase rather than diminish after surgery. Gauzes and medical sponges can cause serious infections.

You may need further surgery to remove the foreign object so that it does not cause long-term complications.

How an Attorney Can Help

Attorneys are not medical experts, but they are experienced in medical negligence law. They have years of experience in fighting similar cases. They’ll consult with medical professionals.

Together, they’ll determine whether surgical errors occurred. They’ll let you know if you have a case for medical negligence. You need to focus on your recovery. Let an attorney take your case and they’ll focus on getting you the compensation you deserve.

Talk to RHINO Lawyers Today

Surgical errors can have a long-term impact on your quality of life. If you’ve been injured as a result of surgical negligence, you need an experienced attorney on your side.

At RHINO Lawyers, you’ll deal with an attorney, not a case worker. Our attorneys will assess your case and let you know whether you have a basis for a medical lawsuit. If you do, you only pay if they win.

Click here to request your free case review today!


In short, if you believe you’re a victim of medical malpractice, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your case.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.