Unfortunately, accidents happen everywhere, even in the operating room by knowledgeable surgeons. For these surgical accidents to be considered medical malpractice, negligence must exist and be proven. Medical malpractice may be a viable claim if the patient was harmed as a result of his/her treatment falling below the standard of care compared to other surgeons within the same practice area.
In this article, we’ll discuss the most common surgical errors, typical causes of the errors, complications that may arise as a result, and how to make a malpractice case. If you have additional questions after reading this, please give our surgical errors lawyers a call today at 1-833-MedMals, email us at DrChakour@sowellchakour.com, or fill out our convenient online contact form. We’re here to help you get your health and life back on track.
Common Surgical Errors
There are many types of surgical errors. In fact, 10 percent of US deaths are due to preventable surgical errors, making it the third leading cause of death in the US after heart disease and cancer. Some surgical error claims happen more often, and these include:
1. Operations that occur on the wrong patient
2. Unnecessary surgeries
3. Internal organ damage
4. Nerve damage
6. Surgery performed on the wrong site
7. Medical tools and equipment left inside the patient
8. Incorrect administration and/or dosage of anesthesia
Typical Causes of Surgical Errors
The reasons for surgical errors vary, and the types of errors above don’t always happen for the same reasons. Some causes of errors in the operating room include the following:
1. Communication Failure. Disastrous results may arise if a surgeon fails to communicate needs to the necessary parties. This is a typical cause of operations on the wrong patient or on the wrong site.
2. Exhaustion or Fatigue. Many surgeons work long hours in the operating room, and when a surgeon is overly fatigued, mistakes can and do occur.
3. Lack of Planning. With a surgeon’s extensive knowledge, he/she must devise a plan of action before beginning a surgery on a patient. Considering what may go wrong and which actions to take in each situation is vital. The plan may include having various nurses or assistants on standby, having the appropriate medical equipment within immediate reach, and knowing the patient’s full medical history before the operation begins.
4. Negligence. Mistakes sometimes happen as a result of a surgeon not being as safe as he/she should be.
5. Incompetence. This happens when a surgeon has not performed a specific procedure or done so very often.
6. Substance abuse. Being under the influence at the time of surgery impairs a surgeon’s judgment, which can cause severe or deadly mistakes.
If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of any of the above, you may have cause to pursue a malpractice action. Contact a surgical errors lawyer today to determine the specifics of your potential claim; a lawyer can help you investigate further should you have a suspicion any of the above occurred while you or your loved one was under the knife.
Complications That May Arise After a Surgical Error
No matter the cause or reason, surgical errors can be devastating and life-threatening. Any number of complications may arise, giving suspicion that malpractice has occurred. These complications might include nerve damage that comes with muscle weakness or paralysis. Unnecessary scarring may be present in the case of a surgery being performed on the wrong patient or wrong site. A complication that is particularly life-threatening and may require further procedures to correct is internal organ damage. This specific damage can occur when a surgeon has used the wrong tool or has been careless in his/her technique. Sometimes internal bleeding can occur following a botched surgery. While bleeding is a risk of any surgery, internal bleeding could be the result of a careless or negligent surgeon. Disability can result after a surgical error due to the lack of oxygen during surgery, overuse of anesthesia, or accidental nerve damage. Lastly, death can occur after a preventable surgical error.
If you or a loved one has suffered from any of the above complications after surgery, contact our surgical errors lawyers today.
What Constitutes Malpractice in a Surgical Error Case?
Some surgical errors are quite apparent, like operating on the wrong patient or operating on the wrong surgery site. Some errors are not so obvious, and for a case to exist, malpractice must be proven. The burden of proof is to show that a surgeon’s treatment fell below the standard of care that a reasonable surgeon in the same operation would have practiced. Secondly, negligence must be proven in a malpractice suit. A medical error is not always considered malpractice. If negligence cannot be proven, it severely harms the feasibility of pursuing a medical malpractice case. To understand what is and isn’t medical malpractice, see our previous blog on the common types of malpractice.
Damages Available for Surgical Errors
A surgical error can cause huge medical bills, follow-up procedures, emotional trauma, lost wages, etc. In some cases, a patient’s health may be permanently impacted. Additionally, a patient may die as a result of a preventable surgical mistake. Medical malpractice cases may result in the following types of damages:
1. Economic damages. This provides compensation for expenses incurred as a result of the injury, like medical bills, physical therapy, subsequent procedures, etc.
2. Non-economic damages. This includes pain and suffering, emotional trauma, losses of consortium, life enjoyment, or companionship.
3. Punitive damages. This is a result of proving that the surgeon acted recklessly with your treatment, life, and health and are meant to punish the defendant. These are not common in surgical error cases but, depending on your case, may be an option.
Preventable surgical errors are devastating and can have lasting, life-altering effects on patients and their families. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of malpractice, give us a call today. We have experience surgical errors lawyers ready to help you get the compensation you need to heal physically, emotionally, and financially.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.