Surgical Errors More Common Than You’d Think

surgical errors, medical malpractice, new york

A 60-year-old Connecticut woman is now suing a hospital for removing the wrong rib and subsequently trying to cover up the blunder by lying. The plan was for the woman’s eight ribs to be removed last May. When she began to experience severe pain afterwards, an X-ray revealed that in addition to the seventh rib being mistakenly removed, metal coils used in the procedure were erroneously left inside her body.

Rather than owning up to the mistake, hospital officials told the woman that she was experiencing pain because “not enough of the eighth rib was removed.” They completely failed to tell her about the seventh rib being removed by mistake and that they eighth rib was not even touched.

Furthermore, the physician responsible for the blunder played a major role in the woman’s second surgery – even though she had strongly insisted that he not be because she viewed him as incompetent.

Thankfully, the case involving the removal of the wrong rib will most likely not cause any long-lasting repercussions. The same cannot be said for a woman whose operation on the wrong side of her brain resulted in life-long speech and movement issues.

In that case, a woman was scheduled to have surgery on the left side of her brain to alleviate issues brought on by mini-strokes she suffered from over the course of several years. Her surgeons, however, operated on the right side of her brain.

While she was able to enjoy an independent lifestyle prior to the surgery, she now requires around the clock care for assistance with her basic needs, and will most likely experience emotional distress, depression and disfigurement for the rest of her life.


Of the more than 234 million surgeries that take place each year, there are more than 4,000 preventable errors. These are referred to in medical circles as “never events” because of the universal professional medical agreement that they should never occur.


Just as no two of us alike – or perhaps because no two of us are alike – no two surgeries are the same. There are, however, some common reasons for errors in the surgery room, including:

  • Incompetence due to lack of skills or not having adequate experience with a particular procedure
  • Poor communication among surgical team
  • Fatigue from working long shifts
  • Neglect of proper procedures, such as failing to properly sterilize surgical instruments


If you have been a victim of surgical error, you need the expertise of a lawyer specializing in medical malpractice. Contact the Fitzgerald Law Firm today for a free consultation at 800-323-9900.