Surgical Errors


A surgical hospital bed

Although there are inherent risks involved in any surgical procedure, patients have a right to receive proper care. Unfortunately, surgical errors are more common than many people realize. In fact, studies have shown that more than 4,000 surgical errors, so-called “never events,” occur each year in the U.S.  If you or a loved one have been injured by a preventable surgical mistake, you may have a right to be compensated.

At Scaffidi & Associates, our surgery injury lawyers have decades of experience handling medical malpractice cases arising from surgical errors in the greater New York City area, including the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as on Long Island, Rockland, Orange and Westchester. 

Guided by the principle that no one should suffer because of a surgeon’s incompetence or surgical negligence, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. Our team of surgery injury lawyers is widely respected for providing our clients with aggressive legal representation and achieving successful outcomes.


A surgical error is defined as a preventable mistake during surgery. It is important to note that an error does not necessarily mean that a surgeon committed malpractice. Instead, in order to be held liable for a patient’s injury, the surgeon, the medical team, or the hospital must have provided treatment that fell below the accepted medical standard of care.

In addition, because all surgeries involve risks, surgeons are required to inform patients of the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives to any surgery or medical procedure, and obtain the patient’s written permission to proceed. This is referred to as “informed consent.” Failing to obtain the patient’s informed consent is a separate cause of action, and the surgeon can be held liable for injuries that are related to the lack of informed consent.


Some of the most common surgical errors include:

  • Nerve Injuries – Surgical errors and anesthesia errors can lead to nerve damage. Because surgeons often operate close to nerves, surgical instruments can sever or cut nerves or cause inflammation. Similarly, nerve damage can result if a patient is placed and remains in an improper position while under anesthesia during surgery.
  • Anesthesia Errors – These surgical errors can result in serious injuries and fatalities. If a patient is given too much anesthesia, he or she may not receive sufficient oxygen, which can cause brain damage or result in death. If too little anesthesia is given, a patient might awaken during a surgical procedure and experience tremendous pain.
  • Surgical Equipment Left Inside a Patient – Surgeons and medical teams sometimes leave scalpels, clamps, sponges, and other surgical equipment in patient’s bodies, which can cause extreme pain, severe infections, or even death. Surgeons are required to follow proper protocols, including a standard materials checklist, to prevent this from occurring.
  • Wrong Body Part Surgery – These surgical errors are referred to as “wrong side” surgeries, which can lead to the removal of a healthy organ instead of a diseased one, or the amputation of the wrong limb.
  • Wrong Patient Surgery – This surgical error can be caused by factors such as lack of preoperative verification or poor hospital protocol, which can lead to the removal of healthy organs or other injuries.


Although each case is unique, some common reasons for surgical errors include:

  • Incompetence – A surgeon may lack the skill or the experience necessary to perform the surgery successfully.
  • Insufficient Preoperative Planning – A surgeon must be well prepared for surgery by reviewing and preparing for potential complications. The medical team, including nurses and assistants, should also prepare by making sure all the necessary equipment is ready and available as needed by the surgeon.
  • Improper Procedures – A surgeon may take shortcuts by skipping certain steps during surgery, which can have serious consequences.
  • Poor Communication – Failing to communicate properly can lead to all types of surgical errors, such as marking the wrong site for surgery, or failing to make sure all surgical equipment is available or has been removed. Medical teams may also miscommunicate about the proper dosage of a patient’s medication.
  • Fatigue – Surgeons typically work long shifts during which they perform multiple operations, which can easily result in fatigue. Tired surgeons are more likely to make mistakes than those who are well-rested.
  • Drugs/Alcohol – Although it comes as a surprise, some surgeons abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, and even perform operations while under the influence.
  • Neglect – Surgeons may fail to act with due care, whether by failing to ensure their instruments are properly sterilized or using surgical equipment known to be outdated.


If you were injured by a surgeon who failed to provide the appropriate standard of care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit and should consult a surgery injury lawyer. These cases are complicated because of the inherent risks involved in all medical procedures, even minor surgeries.

The legal team at Scaffidi & Associates will take the time to understand all the circumstances relative to your surgical procedure. By thoroughly reviewing the medical records, and relying on the testimony of medical experts, we will work tirelessly to demonstrate how the surgeon, medical team, or hospital was negligent.

Because medical professionals are typically required to carry malpractice insurance, these cases can involve negotiating a settlement with an insurer. We will leverage our legal knowledge and skill to ensure that you receive the full value of your claim. If the insurer fails to make a reasonable offer, we are fully prepared to litigate the matter in court, as we have done countless times in the past. Our New York City surgery injury lawyers have secured hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as Long Island, Westchester, Rockland, and Orange Counties. Here are some notable examples:

  • We secured a $45,000,000 verdict for a newborn in Queens County who suffered a birth injury as a result of hospital negligence. Medical professionals at the hospital failed to perform a cesarean section for fetal distress, and the baby was born with neurological injuries.
  • We won a $17,464,488 verdict in the wrongful death case of a Queens woman suffering from encephalitis. After doctors failed to diagnose and treat her condition in a timely fashion, the woman, a wife and mother, died.

We also handle cases involving prescription drug error, as well as misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose medical conditions. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.


We encourage you to take the time to explore this website as the information provided here will answer many of your questions. We believe that an educated client is our best client. We are also readily available to discuss your case in confidence, whether it’s a matter involving personal injury, medical malpractice, real estate, or other legal challenges. Regardless of the issue you are facing, we are uniquely qualified to provide you with exceptional legal representation and personal service. Call our office or complete the contact form on our website to set up a consultation.