The Risks of Routine Surgery

Some of the most common surgeries performed in the United States are tonsillectomies, appendectomies, and cholecystectomies (gallbladder removal).[1]  The fact that surgeons perform these types of procedures every day doesn’t reduce a particular patient’s risk for complications.  According to Dr. Albert Wu, Director of the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the most common post-surgery complications include bleeding, infection, and damage to nearby tissue.[2]  Though serious complications are rare, there are factors that can increase a patient’s risk.  Having heart, lung, or liver problems or being obese makes complications arising from these common surgical procedures more likely.

In the wake of a routine tonsillectomy, one of these unforeseen post-surgery complications left Jahi McMath, a young girl in California, brain dead and her family fighting for the right to keep her on life support.[3]  After having her tonsils removed, Jahi woke up and asked her mother for a popsicle. Shortly thereafter, she began bleeding from her nose and mouth and went into cardiac arrest. Tragically, the McMath family has been forced to confront the risks of routine surgery first-hand. Jahi’s situation illustrates these real life risks for us all.[4]

While medical malpractice has yet to be alleged in Jahi’s case, what happens when it is the surgeon, rather than the patient’s body, that is responsible for post-surgery complications?  According to a study published in September, medical errors account for almost 200,000 deaths in the United States every year.[5]  If you or someone in your family was injured after seeking medical care, contact Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.  One of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help investigate your claim and determine whether a lawsuit is the appropriate course of action.

About the Author: Jason Konvicka is a personal injury attorney and a member of the medical malpractice team at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. Jason is experienced in handling catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. Jason has achieved impressive verdicts and settlements for clients in spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury cases.  He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubble and is listed in Best Lawyers in America.  

[1] A complete list of the most common surgical procedures is available online at: .

[2] .

[3] For  more information on Jahi McMath’s case visit: .

[4]For more information about the risks of routine surgeries, check out the CNN article titled, “When routine surgeries go wrong,” posted online at:  This article describes in more detail some of the risks of routine surgeries and discusses some studies that have tracked the occurrence of post-surgery complications.  The article also offers some advice as to what you should discuss with your doctor before surgery.

[5] The full study, “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care,” is available online at:,_Evidence_based_Estimate_of_Patient_Harms.2.aspx .