Surgical Malpractice in Utah: Most Common Errors

02/20/2019 Posted by Jared Faerber

     According to an article in the British Medical Journal, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US. Article Many of these deaths are due to preventable surgical errors. In a Mayo Clinic study with the American College of Surgeons, 8.9% of participating U.S. surgeons reported the belief that they have made a major medical error within the last 3 months, and 1.5% believe their error resulted in a patient's death.Study

     These are staggering numbers. They suggest surgical errors are quite common and that surgeons are aware of their mistakes. The article also discusses the psychological impact of these errors on the physicians who make them. While the impact on the physician is a concern, as a medical malpractice attorney in Utah, my experience and concern is with the victims of this malpractice. The result of these errors can impact the victims for life, both physically and emotionally. There are common types of surgical malpractice that patients should be aware of:

Unnecessary Surgery

     Every surgical procedure carries certain risks. There is no reason to subject a patient to these risks if the surgery is unnecessary. I've handled a case, for example, for a woman who was subjected to an unnecessary foot surgery which resulted in severe complications. These complications could have been avoided if the unneeded surgery was not performed in the first place.


     Infection is an inherent risk of surgery. However, proper sterile technique and appropriate use of antibiotics can minimize this risk. In addition, once an infection occurs, it is important that the physician quickly diagnose and properly treat it to avoid the serious, sometimes fatal, consequences of an infection.

Damage to Internal Organs

     During surgery, neighboring organs and tissues can be cut, punctured, burned, or otherwise damaged. The injury itself may be malpractice. In addition, the failure to recognize and treat the resulting injury and complications in a timely fashion can be malpractice.

Surgical Instruments, Sponges, Needles, and Other Objects Left in the Body

     These are known as retained foreign bodies. They are an example of clear malpractice. There is no excuse for a surgical instrument or other foreign object to be left behind after surgery. These items can cause severe pain, infection, and the need for additional surgery.

An Experienced Utah Surgical Malpractice Attorney

     Surgical malpractice cases in Utah are difficult and expensive. Malpractice must generally be established through the use of expert witnesses. Even when there is a clear error, there is often a fight about the amount of money damages a patient should receive. There are numerous technical, legal, and medical issues that must be considered. An experienced attorney who has handled surgical cases successfully is essential. I have helped many victims of surgical malpractice in Utah and I would be happy to talk to you for free to see if I can help you too. Please call Attorney Jared Faerber at (801) 438-1099.