A little boy has his mouth checked because of tonsillitis.

What do you think of when you read the words “routine surgery?” It sounds like an in-and-out, low-risk operation that surgeons perform by the dozen. Nothing to worry about, right? 

Wrong. Even routine surgeries can go wrong. In fact, some procedures, like tonsillectomies, have the potential to go very wrong. 

Tonsillectomy complications can strike suddenly during or after surgery. Surgeons sometimes overlook underlying conditions that make the operation more dangerous for a patient. Worst of all, they can commit errors that can cost patients their lives. This can leave families wondering what to do if a surgeon makes a mistake. 

Can you sue for damages if a doctor commits medical malpractice during a tonsillectomy? The answer is yes! Keep reading to find out how a routine tonsillectomy can take a turn for the worse, and what you can do to fight back against a tonsillectomy gone wrong. 

A dad looks at his watch as he waits nervously in hospital waiting room.

A Tonsillectomy Gone Wrong…Very Wrong

Tonsillectomy is the surgical removal of the tonsils, which are two lumps of tissue at the back of the throat. It’s the third most common surgery that doctors perform on children in the US. We’re talking 530,000 tonsillectomies every year! 

Imagine taking your kid to the hospital for a tonsillectomy that should take 40 minutes tops. You give your child a hug and a kiss, and then settle into one of those hard waiting room chairs, scrolling through social media while a soap opera plays on the TV in the corner. 

40 minutes later, you’re checking the time and wondering if the nurse is going to pop around the corner soon. You’re stomach’s growling, and you’d rather head home to cook something up instead of buying a bland hospital “meal”. 

But time goes by, and no one appears to give you an update. An hour passes. Two hours pass. What’s going on? Where’s your child?

That’s exactly what happened to Sonia Gambrell. Her daughter, 9 year old Anyialah Greer, didn’t come out of tonsillectomy surgery for two hours. When nurses finally wheeled her out, she was groggy and could not stay awake. Gambrell sensed that something was wrong, but hospital staff assured her all was well and discharged her daughter. 

But just a few hours later, Anyialah tragically passed away in the car on the way home. Gambrell couldn’t get a straight answer about what had happened during surgery. 

“I still feel like I’m dreaming,” she told The Detroit News in 2017. Like, ‘Where is my daughter?’ Someone is going to come up and tell me it’s all over. That this was a mistake. She can’t die from something they do every day.”

Possible Tonsillectomy Complications

It’s true that getting your tonsils out is rarely fatal. But tonsillectomy complications like the following are possible:

Anesthesia complications

► Post-operative bleeding

► Extreme hemorrhage during surgery

► Infection after surgery

► Other surgery complications

Sometimes, a tonsillectomy gone wrong is the result of a nicked artery that surgeons fail to cauterize. That’s what happened in the case of Jahi McMath, a thirteen year old girl who began to bleed profusely from her mouth and nose after surgery. She went under cardiac arrest, and doctors later declared her brain dead. 

Jahi’s family filed a lawsuit against Jahi’s surgeon and the California hospital where she was harmed. They claimed that nurses ignored the family’s pleas for help while Jahi bled for five hours after surgery. Her doctor did not come and tend to her until it was too late. 

Yes, tonsillectomy complications may not be common, but they’re not that rare either. A study published in Pediatrics found that among US kids who have the procedure, 7.8 percent end up back in the hospital within 30 days. Why? Post tonsillectomy complications. And sometimes, health care providers are to blame.

Doctor checks little girl's tonsils.

What to Do if a Surgeon Makes a Mistake

No surgery is 100% safe. This is why hospitals require you to fill out so much paperwork and sign your consent for even the most routine surgeries. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t file a lawsuit for a tonsillectomy gone wrong because of a doctor’s negligence. You can–and we can help. You don’t have to go through this trying time alone.

If your child has been injured because of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Our knowledgeable attorneys will work with medical experts to determine what acts of negligence have occurred. Call us at (713) 489-0993 or fill out this online form to schedule a no-cost consultation today.