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Why do surgical errors occur?

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Errors should not happen in any hospital department, especially in the operating room (OR). But they do. A significant percentage of medical malpractice claims stem from surgical errors – at least 4,000 surgical errors occur in the U.S. every year.

So, what causes these errors?

Lack of adequate training

If a surgeon lacks adequate education or training to perform a particular operation, the chances of errors are high. A surgeon may perform a procedure they are not skilled at because the hospital pressures them to do so or they don’t want to acknowledge they are incompetent and, in turn, should refer the patient to another surgeon.

Absence of standardized regulations

Hospitals should have standardized regulations that surgeons must follow in addition to those set by major organizations in the medical industry to eliminate room for error.

Poor communication

Before a patient enters the operating room, they pass through several departments, from the administration to laboratories. Several staff are involved in the operation itself, including an anesthesiologist, nurses, and surgical technologists. If there is poor communication among any of these parties, a life-threatening error can occur.

Further, if a surgeon fails to use simple terms when discussing a procedure or illness with a patient or fails to spend adequate time with them to understand their wishes, a patient-doctor communication gap can exist, which can contribute to substandard care.


Hospitals that fail to hire enough surgeons can increase the pressure on surgeons. They may have to rush to complete procedures to serve all scheduled patients and this can lead to errors.

If you have been injured due to a surgical error, you may need to learn more about your legal options.    


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