Mistakes during surgery can result in severe injuries to the patient or even their death. These happen with alarming frequency and cause unnecessary suffering and needless additional medical procedures.
Types of Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can occur in many ways:
- Pre-surgery. These are mistakes that take place before the actual surgery begins. For example, a patient has to have their left foot amputated, but a staff member at the hospital makes a wrong notation in the record, and the right foot is amputated. A similar error happened to famous comedian Dana Carvey. He went to the hospital to have a blocked artery cleared. During the open-heart surgery, the surgeons operated on the wrong artery. Incidents like these can happen as frequently as 4.5 in 10,000 cases.
- Fatigue. Surgeons, like many others in healthcare, infamously work long shifts. They can become tired and make a fatal mistake.
- Retained items. On average, over 250 surgical tools are used in surgery. On an all too frequent basis, one of these is left behind in the body. While the most common example is a sponge, other horrifying items like scalpels, scissors, and tweezers have been left in the body. Other than the obvious serious consequence of pain, retained items can cause infection and even death.
- Shortcuts. Surgeons are extremely busy. Sometimes they may believe that it’s okay to take a shortcut and omit a step that should have been taken.
- Miscommunication. Poor communication can cause any number of crucial errors. In healthcare, 80 percent of medical errors are due to miscommunication.
- Substance abuse. Surgeons are under immense stress. They are not immune to abusing drugs or alcohol. While it may seem difficult to imagine a surgeon willingly performing surgery while under the influence, it happens.
Proving Medical Malpractice
If a hospital’s mistake, or actions of the actual surgeon, lead to a surgical error during your surgery, they may be held accountable for your injuries if they failed to exercise the level of care and skill, which under all the circumstances, other healthcare providers would exercise. If your hospital or surgeon failed to meet this standard of care, they could be liable.
Damages Available for Surgical Errors
Three types of damages may be available in a medical malpractice case:
- Economic damages. These are reimbursement for expenses due to the injury, like past medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity.
- Non-economic damages. (like pain and suffering, emotional distress, or losses of life enjoyment, consortium, society, or companionship).
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for their misconduct. To prove these damages, you must show that the surgeon acted with reckless indifference to your health. This is not common for surgical errors.
Jacksonville Surgical Errors Attorneys
If you or a loved one underwent surgery and a surgical error was committed, you may be entitled to damages. At The Doctor Lawyer Firm, our medical malpractice attorneys are on call to take your case and give you the quality representation you deserve. Call us today at (833) 633-6257 or contact us online.