When Claudia Bond, a mother of four, went in for a hysterectomy to remove her uterus and prevent a bleeding problem from worsening, she felt assured that she could trust her doctor with the procedure.

After she woke up from the surgery, however, the Texas woman’s life was changed forever.

Her physician, Dr. Gerald Bullock, had removed her ovaries and Fallopian tubes instead of her uterus. In court, he admitted that a recent onslaught of Parkinson’s symptoms had likely been a factor in making such a huge error. The hospital where he practiced knew of the issue, but took no actions. Bond has since developed a chronic syndrome related to estrogen deficiency, since her body no longer produces it.

A shockingly common problem

Her story isn’t an anomaly. In fact, nearly 4,000 cases of surgical error crop up in US hospitals each year, resulting massive settlement payouts in excess of a million dollars. These highly preventable incidents range from potentially deadly blunders like leaving an instrument or a piece of gauze inside the patient, to performing the wrong procedure or even operating on the wrong side or body part altogether, as in Bond’s case.

Patients going in for routine operations should be aware that surgical mishaps occur very commonly in these types of procedures. There is no surgery too small to have a lasting impact if the surgeon make an error—even the tiniest puncture or cut from a slip of the hand can cause severe complications, like blood clotting or infection.

Reporting incidents is a step toward a solution

Sadly, a large number of surgical errors go unreported, which not only prevents justice for the patient, but helps contribute to the problem by failing to identify and address the culprits as they happen.

If you or a loved one have been affected by a surgical error, it’s time to seek legal counsel and make sure the error isn’t swept under the rug.