For Connecticut patients, a routine surgery for their child usually doesn’t raise any immediate concern. However, the recent case of a 13-year-old California girl is a perfect example of how something regarded as a simple surgical procedure can turn fatal.

After undergoing a tonsillectomy, the girl started bleeding from her nose and mouth, went into cardiac arrest and was declared brain-dead. So how can a routine surgery suddenly turn fatal?

Every surgery has its own set of complications. In a tonsillectomy, the third most frequent surgical procedure performed on children, bleeding is a known post-surgical complication. But it is a rare occurrence, and the probability of it leading to a patient’s death is frightening, especially since surgeons cauterize the area during the operation. According to the research director of a renowned public health school, patients should inform their doctors if they are prone to any complications such as bruising, bleeding or allergies. They should also ask if the surgery is necessary, since surgery can be discretionary and patients may have the option to not undergo the procedure.

However, medical errors kill over 200,000 patients annually, and according to one expert, are the third leading cause of death in the country. Even with this high number of incidents, medical practitioners should not be excused from practicing medical negligence.

If a patient in New Haven, Connecticut, incurs injuries because of a surgeon’s negligence, then filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can help recover financial damages. Similarly, in the case of a fatal medical error, a family member can file the legal action on behalf of the patient.

Source: CNN, “When routine surgeries go wrong,” Jacques Wilson, Dec. 19, 2013