Surgical Errors

We never expect to leave surgery more injured than when we entered, but for some this is a reality. A study by John Hopkins University revealed that 4,000 surgical mistakes occur every year in the United States. Most of these errors are described as “totally preventable.” 

A surgical error can occur in even the most common surgeries such as an appendectomy. It can range from leaving a sponge inside the body to operating on the wrong site altogether. If you have been injured by a surgical error, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It’s highly recommended you contact an experienced attorney for legal counsel. 

Chicago Attorney for Surgical Errors in Illinois

We trust surgeons will do everything they can to prevent any errors during surgery. Unfortunately, some surgeons negligent or reckless behavior will lead to devastating surgical mistakes. If you have sustained injuries from medical malpractice, we recommend you contact the experienced attorneys at Susan E. Loggans & Associates.

Susan E. Loggans & Associates is a group of skilled personal injury attorneys with years of experience. From talking to insurance adjusters to litigating in court, our lawyers have your back. Call us now at (312) 201-8600 to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys represent people throughout the Cook County area including Evanston, Chicago, Arlington Heights and Schaumburg. 

Overview of Surgical Errors in Illinois


Common Surgical Mistakes Made in Illinois

Surgical errors may derive from a simple mistake but can have devastating effects that could affect you for the rest of your life. Surgeons and their staff are required to follow strict protocols throughout the procedure so they can avoid any mistakes. Sadly, surgical errors can still happen as a result of miscommunication, carelessness, fatigue or poor planning.

The following are some common errors made during surgery.

  • Nerve Damage – Nerves are especially susceptible during surgery. A wrong flick of the risk or hand twitch could result in minor or even severe nerve damage that could haunt you for quite some time. Many people who have experienced nerve damage have troubling symptoms including sharp or jabbing pain or an inability to feel pain.
  • Anesthesia Errors – Errors when administering anesthesia is common, but it’s one of the deadliest surgical mistakes. Patients who receive too much anesthesia could sustain serious brain damage or even die as a result. If a patient doesn’t receive enough anesthesia, they could possibly wake up during surgery and be unable to move.
  • Leaving Foreign Objects Behind – Surgeons use foreign objects such as sponges or scalpels are used to soak up blood or cut tissue. In some cases, a surgeon or their staff may leave a foreign object behind during the procedure. This can lead to dangerous bacteria entering the surgery site and result in a serious infection.
  • Wrong Patient – It may seem unbelievable, but there have been cases where surgery was administered to the wrong patient. A lack of preoperative verification, hospital protocol and communication between surgeons and staff can lead to the wrong patient being operated on. Unnecessary surgery can have a devastating impact on your body and can lead to a slew of medical conditions.
  • Operating on the Wrong Site – It’s a shocking fact that surgeons have operated on the wrong body part because of a lack of communication and preoperative verification. Depending on the surgery and the site, you could face serious post-surgery symptoms including infection, nerve damage, and serious tissue damage.

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How Do Surgical Errors Occur?

Surgical mistakes can occur for many reasons such as poor planning or miscommunication between the surgeon and their staff. It can also involve missing medical information, issues with the chain of command and even negligence by the surgeon or their nurses. 

Listed below are some reasons why a surgical mistake may be made in Illinois.

  • Improper Surgical Procedure – A surgeon may decide to cut corners by skipping certain surgery steps or taking an alternative route with your surgery. Taking shortcuts during an operation can lead to devastating results for the patient.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is one of the leading causes for surgical errors. A surgeon or their medical staff could make a mistake simply because they’re too tired to function at a high level. Staying up late, using substances prior or working excessive hours can all lead to fatigued surgeons or surgical staff.
  • Negligence – Surgeons are trained to follow specific rules and protocol. However, some surgeons may act negligently by failing to perform surgical procedure or working recklessly on the patient. A surgeon who is neglectful is putting others at great risk.
  • Poor Planning – Surgeries require extensive preoperative planning beforehand to ensure the patient has minimal issues. If the surgeon or their staff don’t take these extra precautions before the operation, serious surgical mistakes could occur.
  • Incompetence – Surgeons who lack the skills necessary to perform an operation could make a serious mistake. Hospitals shouldn’t allow surgeons who don’t have enough experience to perform surgery.

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What Do I Do If My Surgeon Makes a Mistake?

It’s understandable to be overwhelmed after realizing your surgeon made an error. Many people who experience a surgical error find themselves drowning in medical bills and experiencing painful complications afterwards with no idea how to handle it. Thankfully, you have options. You can choose to file a claim for damages against the surgeon or hospital that made the mistake. 

Filing a personal injury claim is typically based on the grounds of negligence. Negligence is when a person omits actions or acts carelessly in a situation where there is substantial risk and injury could occur. A person who is negligent doesn’t have the same level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would if they were in the same situation.  

For example, if your surgeon operated on the wrong side of your body due to miscommunication with his staff, then they could be considered liable. The reason why it would be negligent is that a prudent surgeon would ensure he has total communication from his staff before continuing with surgery. A prudent surgeon would take the steps to ensure they have all the information they and their staff needs before performing surgery.

After you draft and file your claim, you will then send it to the defendant. The defendant is whoever is responsible for your injury such as the surgeon, medical staff or the hospital itself. The defendant is legally obligated to respond and if they contest the claim, you’re obligated to prove the following: 

  • The defendant was required to uphold a duty of care;
  • They knowingly or intentionally breached this duty;
  • You were injured because of their actions; and
  • You suffered as a result of the injury 

If you win the case, then the court will grant you a monetary award. You will be compensated for all the losses you’ve sustained due to the accident such as:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Loss of future earnings;
  • Rehabilitation costs;
  • Counseling;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Pain and suffering; and
  • Loss of quality of life

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Additional Resources 

NMMAA – Visit the official website for the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA), a non-partisan civil rights organization that advocates for victims of medical malpractice. Access the site to learn more about medical malpractice, their advocating services and resources for people suffering from a medical mistake.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice – Visit the official website for the Illinois General Assembly how long you have to file a claim for medical malpractice. Access their statutes to learn the exceptions for medical malpractice and what happens when a minor wants to file a claim for a medical mistake.


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Personal Injury Attorneys for Surgical Mistakes in Cook County, IL

Don’t suffer from a surgeon’s mistake unconditionally. If so, contact Susan E. Loggans & Associates to get in contact with an experienced personal injury attorney. Our personal injury attorneys collectively have decades of experience and can use that knowledge to represent you in court. 

Call us now at (312) 201-8600 to schedule a free consultation. We can examine your case, answer your legal questions and start on a legal plan together. You can find us in the Cook County area including Evanston, Chicago, Schaumburg, and Arlington Heights.


This article was last updated on May 31, 2019.