5 Steps to Take When Surgery Goes Wrong


Many people fear surgery, and for all types of reasons. Some are afraid of the event itself, while others worry about the aftermath of surgery. Many patients fear a failed surgery and the quality of life that they might be left with.

Today, surgeons have access to the most proven methods and greater technology, yet a successful surgery is never a guarantee. Although the majority of surgeries go according to plan, there are still more than 4,000 surgical mistakes every year.

Maybe you’re anxious about an upcoming surgery. Perhaps you’re experiencing unexpected pain or injury as a result of your surgery. It might be that you consider yourself to be a victim of negligence.

In any case, whenever you fear that a surgery has missed the mark, here are five steps you can take.

1. Get everything in writing

One of the best ways to ensure that you have reasonable expectations about an upcoming surgery is to get everything in writing from the very start.

If you’re working with an experienced and proven surgeon, he or she is well aware of the various challenges, risks, timeline, and after-effects of your specific type of surgery. They should be able to clearly convey them to you well before you’re scheduled to go under the knife.

By getting all information in writing, you’ll not only develop the right expectations for your surgery but you’ll also have a substantial written record of information in the event that something goes wrong.

2. Talk with your general practitioner

Following your surgery, you may have pressing concerns about your immediate or long-term health.

If you notice that any symptoms, injuries, or pains are beyond what your surgeon has instructed you to expect, it’s wise to first discuss these issues with your general practitioner.

Not only is it usually easier to get an appointment with your general doctor but it also allows you to get an unbiased opinion on your surgery. Your doctor may be able to tell you whether or not the different pains you’re experiencing are cause for serious concern and help you identify the right course of action going forward.

3. Talk with your surgeon

After speaking with your general practitioner and coming to the conclusion that what you’re currently experiencing is beyond the normal aches and pains you should anticipate following your type of surgery, schedule to meet with your surgeon.

While you may feel inclined to angrily confront your surgeon, it’s important that you don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, remain calm and approach the conversation respectfully. Gather the facts concerning your surgery and determine what might have gone wrong.

It might be that you initially had different expectations for your surgery or misunderstood the recovery process. Maybe your body is adapting to these new changes and you’re still expected to make a full recovery.

However, if you feel strongly—even after discussing with your surgeon—that mistakes were made during your surgery, it’s at this point that you may want to take further action.

4. Consider your options

If your primary concern is getting your health back on track and correcting the surgery, consult your hospital or surgeon to see whether the issue can be remedied. In many cases, a follow-up surgery can correct certain issues.

If the hospital or surgeon is unwilling or unable to correct their mistake, you may choose to take legal action.

Be sure that there is no other path forward before filing a lawsuit, as doing so will make resolution impossible. Plus, the stress and longevity of the legal process can take a mental and emotional toll on you and your family.

However, medical lawsuits are also fairly common. It’s been reported that roughly one in three physicians has been sued at some point.

In hiring an attorney, you’ll also need to determine the type of lawsuit you’ll be filing—whether it’s ordinary negligence, medical malpractice, or otherwise. Your attorney will hear your story, determine whether you have a case, guide you in gathering information that is most pertinent, and help you file a lawsuit properly.

5. Seek compensation

Each year, it’s reported that more than $1.3 million is paid out in medical malpractice claims alone. Depending on your specific case, you might also be eligible for compensation.

However, it’s worth noting that many patients also lose their lawsuits. Surgery is a field where there is inherent risk and no guarantee of a successful outcome.

While you may be unhappy with the result of your surgery, you will likely need to prove malpractice or negligence in order to be compensated.