Chicago Surgical Error Lawyer

Experienced Surgical Error Attorneys in Chicago, Illinois

Surgeons are considerably trained and highly paid medical professionals.

We expect them to do their jobs flawlessly every time. Nevertheless, surgeons don’t always meet our expectations. Of course, there is an amount of risk involved in every surgical procedure. When patients undergo surgery, they are usually asked to sign a waiver of liability. But that contract is breached when the patient is harmed due to neglect on the part of the surgeon or supporting staff.

We count on experienced medical experts to make the right decision

Of course, not all surgery-related injuries are caused by doctor neglect. That’s why our on-staff medical professionals must examine you, and determine what to do next. If your injury was in fact caused by malpractice, we will start the proceedings right away. We have filed claims against hospitals, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other operating room personnel, and we can do the same for you.

Why Hire a Surgical Error Lawyer?

If you or a loved one was injured during an operation because of carelessness or a preventable mistake, that is considered medical malpractice — and you deserve reimbursement and a chance to hold the surgeon and staff responsible.

The medical malpractice lawyers at Malman Law in Chicago, Illinois have been offering assistance to those injured due to medical error for nearly 25 years. We have helped many individuals and families get justice and receive payment to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We are proud to say that over 95% of our cases are successfully resolved out of court, however, we will not hesitate to bring your case to that level if necessary.

What is Considered a Surgical Error?

The types of surgical errors that can occur are almost as numerous are the available types of surgery. But the following are common cases of surgery gone wrong:

  • Wrong-site surgery
  • Too much or too little anesthesia
  • Failure to properly supervise the patient’s recovery
  • Surgery performed on the wrong patient
  • Infection due to inadequate or improper use of antiseptic
  • A wrong surgical procedure performed
  • Surgical or other items left in the body
  • Injury to organs, tissue and nerves

If you believe that a doctor, nurse, anesthesiologist or other medical professional committed an error that directly resulted in serious injury, you owe it yourself to contact a skilled, compassionate Chicago malpractice attorney at Malman Law.

We include a medical professional on our staff – an R.N. and a physician with a law degree. This gives us leverage in both the medical and the legal world. We can examine you, and determine if you have suffered a surgical error that could have been prevented with reasonable care. Then we will get to work fighting for your rights.

Experienced Medical Professionals Help Guide Our Claims

Some surgery-related injuries are not caused by negligence on the part of the surgeon, the other medical professionals involved, or the medical facility, but others are. We turn to our network of practiced medical professionals to help us establish when medical malpractice is the culprit, and this backing provides us with a solid foundation on which to build your claim.

If you’ve been harmed by a surgical error, we are well-prepared to help. In fact, we’ve filed many successful claims against all the following:

  • Surgeons
  • The hospitals they perform surgery in
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Other operating room personnel

While every claim comes with its own unique circumstances, we’ll leave no stone unturned in our focused pursuit of the compensation you need to recover as fully as possible in the face of the losses you’ve experienced.

Common Surgical Errors

While surgical errors can come in limitless forms, there are certain types that are far more common than others.

Surgical Errors that Occur in the Operating Room

Many very serious injuries happen on the operating table, and some of the most common include the following:

  • Making anesthesia errors involving either too much or too little anesthesia, which can have very serious consequences and can ultimately prove fatal
  • Leaving surgical tools or materials inside the patient’s body, which can lead to life-threatening infections, immense pain, abscesses, and organ perforations
  • Failing to adequately monitor the patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, throughout the surgery
  • Accidentally nicking or cutting another body part, organ, tissue, or nerve in the course of the procedure, which can lead to serious consequences that become that much more so when the error isn’t immediately recognized and addressed
  • Failing to employ adequate sterilization practices, which can lead to dangerous infections

Surgical Errors that Occur Outside the Operating Room

There is more to surgical errors than just those that occur on the operating table. Consider all the following:

  • Failure to give the patient the necessary preoperative information, including information related to risks and alternative treatments, which amounts to a lack of informed consent
  • Failure to perform all the necessary preoperative testing
  • The scheduling of an unnecessary or ill-advised procedure
  • Failure to adequately address postoperative complications, such as infections, in a timely manner
  • Failure to seek consultation with the appropriate medical specialists prior to proceeding

Surgical Never Events

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports on next-level surgical errors, which are termed never events and are based on the fact that there is no excuse for these ever happening. All the following apply to these surgical never events:

  • They are unambiguous, which means that they are easy to identify and are measurable.
  • They are serious, which means that they can cause serious disability or even death.
  • They are generally preventable.

While there are 29 never events – or serious reportable events – they are all grouped into the following dangerous categories:

  • Surgical or procedural events, such as performing surgery on the wrong body part, performing the wrong surgery, or performing surgery on the wrong person
  • Product or device events, such as using contaminated devices, biologics, or drugs provided by the healthcare facility
  • Patient protection events, such as discharging or releasing a patient of any age who is unable to make decisions on their own behalf to anyone other than an authorized person
  • Care management events, such as medication errors that involve the wrong drug, wrong dosage, wrong manner of administration, wrong patient, or failure to follow up or communicate regarding lab, pathology, or radiology results
  • Environmental events, such as causing electric shock in the course of patient care or using an oxygen line that either contains another gas, contains no oxygen, or is contaminated
  • Radiologic events, such as the introduction of a metallic object into the MRI space
  • Criminal events, such as medical care that is provided by someone impersonating a doctor, the abduction of a patient, sexual assault or abuse, or physical assault in the healthcare setting

The Statistics

The National Institute of Health (NIH) published a study that identifies medical errors as being a serious public health problem and a leading cause of death in the United States. They also share that about 400,000 hospitalized patients are harmed by some form of preventable error each year in this country. Additional statistics shared include:

  • About 100,000 people die as a result of medical errors each year.
  • Most malpractice claims in hospitals are related to surgical errors.
  • Hospitals often reduce nursing staff to decrease overhead, and running below target staffing rates is closely associated with increased mortality rates.

Surgical errors are both more common and more dangerous than many people realize.

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Medical professionals typically don’t intend to make surgical errors. Instead, factors like the following generally guide these errors:


Doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals often put in grueling hours, but when fatigue affects their ability to effectively perform surgery, it becomes a serious problem. The impairments caused by exhaustion are not dissimilar to those experienced by the inebriated. People who are overly fatigued often make errors, and this applies to everyone, including surgeons.

Incompetence or Lack of Experience

A surgeon who is not competent to perform a specific surgery should not do so. Further, a surgeon who lacks the necessary experience to perform a specific surgery should abstain from doing so. Another contributing factor can be a lack of appropriate supervision or monitoring. While the only way to obtain the necessary experience to perform a specific surgery is by performing it, the path forward requires careful supervision and monitoring by a surgeon with more considerable experience and skill.

Insufficient Preoperative Planning

Surgery requires extensive preoperative planning to ensure that all key elements and variables are accounted for and that all loose ends are tied up before proceeding with something as serious as a surgical procedure. When a medical facility doesn’t have highly effective preoperative systems in place or when the surgeon or any other involved medical professional is lax when it comes to implementing these systems, it can lead to serious surgical errors.

Failure to Communicate

Surgery does not happen in a vacuum. Instead, a team of medical professionals must coordinate with a busy medical facility, which means that, without clear communication, a lot can go wrong. A high level of communication is also required during the surgical procedure, and when attending medical professionals rely upon assumptions, it can prove disastrous. An extreme form of miscommunication is marking the wrong site for surgery.


There is absolutely no excuse for performing surgery while impaired by alcohol or drugs, but it, nevertheless, happens. Surgeons and medical professionals with alcohol or drug problems don’t always excuse themselves from operating rooms when they are under the influence, and their patients can pay the ultimate price.


If there is one thing no patient wants, it is a careless doctor or surgeon. Medical procedures require immense care in order for optimal outcomes to be achieved, and this requires a high level of commitment on the part of the surgeon, every other medical professional involved, and the medical facility. Prime examples of carelessness include failing to properly sterilize the surgical instruments used and leaving surgical tools or debris inside the patient.

It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Chicago Surgical Error Attorney

If you or someone you care about has been injured by a surgical error, the consequences can be overwhelming, but the formidable Chicago surgical error attorneys at Malman Law recognize the difficulties you face and welcome the opportunity to help. We have more than two decades of experience successfully championing the rights of valued clients like you, and we have recovered millions of dollars on their behalf. Surgical errors can be life-threatening, and they are far more common than we’d like to believe

We are conveniently located in the downtown Chicago Loop

We are conveniently located in the downtown Chicago Loop, with many of our medical malpractice clients coming to us from the nearby towns and neighborhoods of Cook County, including Blue Island, Cicero, Berwyn, South Holland, Matteson, Oak Lawn, Lansing, Bellwood, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Chicago Heights, Westchester, Olympia Fields, Maywood, Dolton, Riverside, Sauk Village, Oak Park, and Harvey. We also have injury clients in DuPage County, Will County, and Lake County.

When surgical errors result in serious injury, you need someone on your side. Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are available 24/7. Call us anytime, dial (888) 625-6265 or fill out our free online consultation and request a free case evaluation. We’ll discuss your situation and advise you about possible next steps.

What’s your case worth? Submit for a free case review

Our Location


205 W. Randolph St., #1700,
Chicago, IL 60606

Malman Library Resources

Know Your Rights!


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

Most common questions our surgical error lawyers get

Answers to some of the most common Surgical Error questions we’re asked.

How common are surgical errors?

Unfortunately, surgical errors are frighteningly common. Researchers examining the National Practitioner Data Bank found nearly 20,000 instances of surgical error malpractice judgments and claims between 1990 and 2010, and that figure is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg. These same researchers estimate that over 4,000 preventable surgical errors occur in the United States each year, only about one-eighth of which result in a medical malpractice judgment or claim.

According to this research, surgery on the wrong body part occurs 20 times every single week in the United States, along with 20 instances in which doctors actually operated on the wrong patient. On a per capita comparison basis, this research indicates that well over 100 preventable surgical errors occur right here in the Chicago metro area every year – about one case every three days.

A University of Colorado study concluded that errors in judgment, diagnosis, and communication were the most common contributors to surgical errors – in fact, communication errors played a role in 100 percent of the surgical errors studied.

Is it easy to win a medical malpractice case based on a surgical error?

Although every case differs, medical malpractice claims involving allegations of surgical error are not usually particularly easy to win, for a number of reasons. First of all, health care providers fight hard to win because they see a medical malpractice claim as an attack on their reputations. Second, a claim of surgical error often implicates complex scientific issues that may take investigation and expert testimony to resolve. Third, not all surgical errors constitute malpractice – negligence must have been involved for your claim to succeed, and the presence or absence of negligence is essentially a legal determination.

Nevertheless, some cases of surgical errors are rather straightforward, and even when they are not, payouts tend to be high in cases of serious harm regardless of whether the claim is resolved in court or at the settlement table. Since courts tend to award high noneconomic damages (for pain and suffering, mental anguish, etc.) in cases of serious errors, settlement negotiators tend to accept high compensation demands more often than they would otherwise be willing to.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit?

Normally, if you suffer harm due to medical malpractice, under the Illinois personal injury statute of limitations you have two years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a lawsuit. If you don’t file a lawsuit within that time, your claim will die and you will be forever barred from pursuing it. There are limited exceptions to this rule, however, and one of them is particularly likely to apply in the case of a surgical error.

If a slip of the knife leaves you paralyzed from the neck down, you are likely to know about it immediately. But suppose a doctor or a nurse negligently forgets to remove a sponge or a clamp from inside your body before you are sewn up? You might not know about it for weeks, months, or possibly even years. In that case, the two-year deadline would begin to run on the day that you knew or should have known about the error. The same is true for any other negligent act or omission that you don’t discover immediately.

Should I try to settle the case outside of court rather than file a lawsuit?

If your case is strong. It might be best to pursue both strategies simultaneously – file a medical malpractice lawsuit and then open negotiations with the defendant. Filing a lawsuit at some point is likely to increase your bargaining power and nudge the defendant into issuing a generous settlement offer. That being said, over 90 percent of all surgical error claims are ultimately settled out of court, sometimes during a pending lawsuit.

If you choose to open settlement negotiations without first filing a lawsuit, you need to be careful not to allow the defendant to lull you into missing the statute of limitations deadline through constant delays. A good Chicago medical malpractice lawyer will never make this mistake.

At the negotiating table, you will probably be facing experienced professionals who negotiate for a living and whose sole purpose is to either deny your claim or carve it down to bare bones in order to save money for themselves. A good Chicago medical malpractice lawyer, however, is a skilled professional who will not be afraid to insist upon fair and generous compensation.