Imagine being told that the surgical procedure you are about to go through is common and that there are few risks involved. Would you feel better hearing that? Probably, though there would still be that innate fear of going under the knife that everyone has. There are always risks involved when it comes to surgery. But hearing that phrase, that sentiment that “it’s all going to be okay because this is a common procedure” can make a big difference for an anxious pre-op patient.

But this is all made worse if the procedure doesn’t go according to plan. Even the most basic of surgeries can go awry, just like even the most skilled and experienced of medical professionals can make a mistake.

This is part of what makes the following story so heartbreaking.

A 9-year-old girl went in for a tonsillectomy — a procedure that is performed on children some 530,000 times per year in the U.S. — and passed away just hours after the surgery was performed. It has since come to light that the medical staff on hand discovered a pre-existing but previously unknown heart condition. But they also found an obstructed airway and they then administered an inappropriate amount of anesthesia to the girl.

In addition, medical staff hastily (and inappropriately) cleared the girl to return home, even though she complained about not feeling well after the surgery. The girl’s family will likely file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical facility and its staff.

Source: National Law Review, “Routine Tonsillectomy Demonstrates How Errors Can Impact Routine Procedures,” March 27, 2017