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Surgical Complications Indicating Possible Malpractice

Surgical Complications Indicating Possible Malpractice

Name of Procedure Risks Adenoidectomy

  • Bleeding
  • Nasal speech
  • Nasal regurgitation of food or liquids

Anesthesia, general

  • Abnormal reaction to drugs
  • Injury to vocal cords or throat
  • Injury to teeth, lips, and tongue
  • Brain damage
  • Malignant hyperthermia

Angiography, cerebral

  • Injury to the arteries entered
  • Bleeding at the site of entry by catheter
  • Stroke
  • Blindness or brain damage
  • Emboli to the brain
  • Allergic reaction to the injected contrast medium

Angiography, coronary

  • Injury to the artery
  • Damage to heart
  • Mocardial infarction
  • Possible need for open heart surgery
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Bleeding at the site of entrance
  • Allergic reaction to injected contrast medium


  • Paraplegia
  • Loss of extremity
  • Bowel infarction
  • Renal failure

Aortic Dissection

  • Stroke
  • Renal failure
  • Bowel infarction
  • Paraplegia
  • Death

Aortic Graft

  • Bleeding or Infection
  • Infection or emboli
  • Kidney failure or loss of limb
  • Inadequate blood to bowel or spinal cord
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Death


  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Intra-abdominal abscess
  • Leakage from the colon requiring colostomy
  • Hernia in the incision

Arteriovenous Shunt for Hemodialysis

  • Bleeding or infection
  • Damage blood vessel with risk of rupture
  • Recurrent thrombosis
  • Severe edema of extremity
  • Inadequate blood supply to extremity
  • Inadequate blood supply to nerves

Birth of child

  • Injury to bladder
  • Injury to rectum
  • Fistula between vagina and rectum
  • Hemorrhage possibly requiring hysterectomy
  • Brain damage to fetus

Blood Transfusion

  • Fever
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Hepatitis
  • AIDS

Breast Augmentation

  • Risks of use of silicon gel are excluded
  • Scar formation around implant causing hard breast
  • Deflation of implant
  • Loss of sensation to the nipple and breast
  • Persistent pain in breast
  • Distortion of breast mound
  • Leakage of implant contents

Breast Biopsy, Excisional

  • Infection and/or blood clot
  • Failure to obtain accurate diagnosis
  • Disfiguring scar
  • Failure to locate and remove abnormality

Cardiopulmonary Bypass

  • Stroke
  • Respiratory complications
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

Carotid Endarterectomy

  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Stroke
  • Nerve injury causing mouth, throat, or tongue problems
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Death

Cataract Surgery

  • Loss of vision or decrease in vision
  • Loss of eye
  • Bleeding inside or behind eye
  • Painful eye
  • Droopy eyelid

Catheterization, central venous

  • Hemorrhage into chest cavity or elsewhere
  • Pericardial tamponade (compression of heart)
  • Cardiac arrest or stroke
  • Collapse of lung
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Infusion of fluid into chest cavity

Cervix, Removal

  • Uncontrollable leakage of urine
  • Injury to the bladder
  • Injury to the bowel or intestinal obstruction
  • Injury to the urethra
  • Sterility
  • Pulmonary embolism


  • Pancreatitis
  • Injury to the bile duct
  • Retained stones in the bile duct
  • Narrowing of the bile duct
  • Injury to the bowel

Coarctation of Aorta

  • Quadriplegia or paraplegia
  • Permanent hoarseness
  • Leakage of body fluid from intestines into chest
  • Loss of bowel and/or bladder function
  • Impotence in males

Colon Surgery

  • Infection of the incision
  • Intra-abdominal abscess
  • Leakage from colon and possible colostomy
  • Injury to other organs or blood vessels
  • Diarrhea, sometimes permanent
  • Formation of scar tissue causing intestinal blockage
  • Hernia in incision


  • Infection or bleeding
  • Perforation of colon or rectal wall
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

Dental Implants

  • Infection, bleeding, failure to heal
  • Permanent and disfiguring scarring
  • Premature loss of implant, or mobility
  • Loss of bone
  • Numbness of face or mouth
  • Fracture of jaw
  • Injury to adjacent teeth or sinus

Dilation and Curettage

  • Hemorrhage with possible hysterectomy
  • Perforation of the uterus
  • Injury to the bowel or bladder
  • Sterility

Ear Tubes

  • Persistent infection
  • Perforation of eardrum or cyst behind the eardrum
  • Need to surgically remove tubes

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio Pancreatogram (ERCP)

  • Infection
  • Perforation of esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Pancreatic inflammation

Endoscopy, abdominal

  • Puncture of the bowel or blood vessel
  • Abdominal infection
  • Operation to correct injury
  • Injury to urethra
  • Injury to bladder

Epidural, spinal

  • Abnormal reaction to drugs
  • Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid
  • Epidural blood clot or abscess
  • Broken needles or catheters
  • Incomplete analgesia
  • Back pain and/or paralysis
  • Severe headaches

Femoral Bypass Grafts

  • Bleeding requiring re-operation
  • Necrosis of skin around incision
  • Thrombi or emboli
  • Limb loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Death

Fibroid Removal (Uterine myomectomy)

  • Uncontrollable leakage of urine
  • Injury to bladder
  • Injury to the urethra
  • Injury to the bowel and/or intestinal obstruction
  • Sterility
  • Pulmonary embolism

Gastrectomy or Phloroplasty

  • Infection of incision or inside abdomen
  • Bleeding requiring transfusion
  • Leakage from stomach
  • Inability to maintain weight
  • Chronic vomiting after eating
  • Diarrhea and need for vitamin B-12 injections
  • Recurrence of condition for which surgery was done


  • Hypotension, hemorrhage, sepsis, cardiac arrhythmias
  • Allergic reaction to tubing and dialyzer
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Air bubbles in the bloodstream
  • Seizure, hypothermia, fever
  • Viral infections such as HIV
  • Cardiac arrest


  • Bleeding
  • Post operative pain, especially with bowel movements
  • Temporary/permanent difficulty controlling bowels or gas
  • Recurrence of hemorrhoids
  • Narrowing of anal opening requiring repeated dilations

Hernia Repair

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Recurrence of hernia
  • Injury to or loss of testicle or spermatic cords
  • Nerve injury resulting in numbness or chronic pain

Hysterectomy, abdominal or vaginal

  • Uncontrollable leakage of urine
  • Injury to bladder
  • Injury to urethra
  • Injury to the bowel and/or intestinal obstruction
  • Painful intercourse
  • Ovarian failure requiring hormone administration
  • Formation of fistula between vagina and rectum

Kidney Stone Lithotripsy

  • Bleeding in or around kidney
  • Obstruction of kidney by stone particles
  • Failure to completely fragment stones
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of kidney

Liver Biopsy

  • Bleeding
  • Lung collapse
  • Internal leakage of bile
  • Puncture of other organs


  • Infection or blood clot
  • Disfiguring scar
  • Fluid collection in arm pit
  • Numbness to arm
  • Swelling of arm
  • Damage to nerves of arm or chest
  • Recurrence of cancer

Mastectomy, radical

  • Limitation of movement of shoulder or arm
  • Swelling of the arm
  • Loss of skin requiring graft
  • Failure to eradicate the malignancy
  • Injury to major blood vessel

Oral Surgery

  • Infection, bleeding, failure to heal
  • Injury to adjacent teeth
  • Numbness of face and/or mouth
  • Fracture of either jaw
  • Opening between mouth and sinus or nose
  • Tooth fragment in sinus
  • Dry socket

Penile Implant

  • Bleeding and infection
  • Penile pain or numbness
  • Injury to bladder or urethra
  • Problems with implantable prosthetic


  • Bleeding and/or infection
  • Injury to bladder, urethra, or rectum
  • Impotence
  • Retrograde ejaculation
  • Bladder blockage
  • Incontinence

Radial Keratotomy

  • Loss of vision or decrease in vision
  • Loss of eye
  • Variable vision
  • Radiating images around lights
  • Over or under correction
  • Cataract formation
  • Retained need for glasses

Radiation Therapy, Head/neck - Initial Reaction

  • Altered sense of smell, taste, or nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing, weight loss, fatigue
  • Hoarseness, cough, loss of voice
  • Hearing loss, dizziness
  • Dry and irritable eyes
  • Increased risk of infection and/or bleeding
  • Intensified by chemotherapy

Radiation Therapy, head/neck - Late Reaction

  • Tooth decay and gum changes
  • Bone damage in jaws
  • Hair loss, scarring of skin
  • Swelling of tissues under chin
  • Brain, spinal cord or nerve damage
  • Pituitary or thyroid gland damage
  • Second cancers developing

Radiation Therapy, Thorax - Initial Reaction

  • Skin changes, hair loss on the chest
  • Inflammation of the esophagus, heart sac, or lungs
  • Bleeding or fistula from tumor destruction
  • Intermittent electric shock-like feeling in the lower body
  • Increased risk of infection or bleeding
  • Intensified by chemotherapy

Radiation Therapy, Thorax - Late Reaction

  • Changes in skin texture, scarring, hair loss
  • Lung scarring or shrinkage
  • Narrowing of esophagus
  • Constriction of heart sac
  • Damage to heart muscle or arteries
  • Fracture of ribs
  • Spinal cord or liver damage

Radical Mastectomy

  • Limitation of shoulder or arm movement
  • Swelling of the arm
  • Loss of the skin of the chest
  • Failure to completely eradicate the malignancy
  • Decreased sensation or numbness
  • Injury to major blood vessels

Renal Biopsy

  • Injury to adjacent organs
  • Infection
  • Hypotension
  • Bleeding from the kidney
  • Intestinal perforation

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