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Wrongfully Injured?

Medical Malpractice and Catastrophic Injury Attorneys

*Certified Specialist in Serious Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation

When can a surgical error be fatal?

On Behalf of | Dec 18, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Panoramic image of the modern operating room with the personnel working with the patient

The worst fear of many patients is the possibility of negligence or carelessness occurring during surgery, leaving them powerless to intervene. Although surgical errors are relatively rare, there are times when they can be fatal.

By understanding when a surgical error might be fatal, you can take the appropriate action if you or a loved one experience a near-fatal event during surgery or if a wrongful death has occurred.

Wrong-site errors

A critical mistake that a negligent surgeon may commit is operating on the wrong site in a patient’s body. This error can involve operating on the wrong side of a symmetrical organ or the wrong body part entirely. Identifying wrong-site errors swiftly is vital to preventing irreversible harm.

Wrong-procedure errors

Wrong-procedure errors can arise due to miscommunications among medical staff or when there is a patient mix-up. Similar to wrong-site errors, wrong-procedure mistakes can result in damage to a perfectly healthy part of the body while leaving the original problem untreated.

Mishandling of surgical instruments

Carelessness in handling surgical instruments can cause severe damage to a patient. For example, reckless use of a scalpel can lead to accidental lacerations and internal bleeding that is difficult to stop. Patients may also endure pain or even death if surgeons overlook the removal of certain instruments post-surgery. This is why it is crucial that healthcare providers emphasize rigorous instrument handling protocols in order to minimize risks.

Other errors that can cause wrongful death include keeping a patient waiting too long while they are in critical condition or a lack of attentiveness after an operation. If your family suffers a fatal or near-fatal experience as a result of a surgical error, you have the right to pursue legal action.


In the unfortunate event of a near-fatal or fatal experience resulting from a surgical error, individuals have a right to pursue legal action. Being aware of the various scenarios in which surgical errors can occur empowers patients and their families to seek justice.

Seek legal help after a surgical error

If you or a loved one is injured, we recommend you contact us here at Harris, Powers & Cunningham PLLC to discuss your legal options. Our lawyers may be able to help you get the compensation you need to recover after being injured. We provide a no-obligation, free initial consultation. Call 602-910-6779 or send us an e-mail to request your consultation.