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Surgical residents vulnerable to causing surgical errors

Preparing to have surgery, whether routine or emergency, is never easy for patients in Ohio or elsewhere. Even when a patient is well acquainted with their surgeon and medical team, some concerns and overwhelming thought could persist. Although a surgeon has years of experience, education and training, a surgeon is also human. This means they are subject to human errors, which could occur during a surgical procedure. Even more so, at a teaching hospital, a patient is likely to expect surgical residents playing a role in their surgery as well.

Although surgical residency is a time when surgical residents obtain valuable experience and information, it is also a time where they are still students that are learning. Because of that, mistakes could be made. While the resident's supervisor is there to prevent these errors from happening, this unfortunately does not always spare the health, wellbeing and even life of a patient.

Based on a recent study, surgical residents are especially vulnerable to surgical errors. This study focused on a 10-year span, identifying 87 cases of malpractice that involve surgical interns, residents or fellows. The outcomes experienced by patients in 67 of these 87 cases involved death or permanent disability. Nearly half of these 87 incidents involved a jury verdict and an awarded settlement to the patient.

When assessing the details of these events, it was found that 70 percent of malpractice claims involving surgical trainees occurred during elective surgeries. The most common source of malpractice claims stemmed from general surgery. This is then followed by orthopedics, gynecologic, urologic, neurosurgery, oral surgery and finally otolaryngology.

No matter the type or reason for surgery, patients should understand their rights and recourses if they are harmed by medical negligence. Whether a surgical resident causes it or an esteemed surgeon, a harmed patient could file a medical malpractice claim, seeking compensation for their losses.

Source:, "Surgical Residents Vulnerable to Malpractice Claims," Diana Phillips, August 30, 2017

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