Laparoscopic techniques represent a key milestone in the development of modern surgery, offering a step change in quality of care, patient satisfaction and efficiency in use of health service resources. Laparoscopy is most widely used for gall bladder surgery. As would be expected with the introduction of any new technology, the early phase of development was accompanied by complications in its use. Arguably some of these should have been anticipated, but nevertheless standards and training programs were subsequently put in place to secure a more consistent standard of care across the UK. Now that this early learning curve has largely been negotiated, we wanted to examine the nature of the errors associated with laparoscopic gall bladder surgery, particularly in relation to equipment. We used data from the largest error-reporting system in the world to examine the problem of equipment-related incidents amongst patients who had laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Over the 6-year period 2004-2010, the number of such reports increased 15-fold, whilst the growth in use of the procedure itself increased 1.3-fold. The majority of the increase was in device-related errors. User-related errors constituted a smaller proportion of errors. Whilst most surgeons appear to carry out laparoscopic surgery with a low level of harm to their patients, problems with their equipment remains a risk for many procedures. In some ways, this is an easier problem to address than one associated with competency. A risk associated with faulty, substandard or misused equipment is one that should be minimized in a 21st Century surgical service.