Due to unavoidable potential complications, all surgeries carry some degree of risk. Surgical errors, however, occur when a patient encounters unexpected complications during surgery that can be attributed to surgeon malpractice. Malpractice on the part of a surgeon occurs when patients do not receive treatment according to the standard of care.
Learn more about your legal rights and what options you have if a surgical error occurs.
Common Surgical Errors
Professionals in the medical field can make a variety of surgical errors. The following are some of the most common surgical mistakes:
- Wrong patient or surgery site — A wrong-site surgery occurs when a patient undergoes surgery on the wrong part of the body or organ, while a patient mix-up can result in the wrong patient receiving the wrong surgery. The errors can result in unnecessary organ removal or damage to other body parts.
- Instruments left inside the body — Surgical instruments are often left in the body after the doctors close the incisions. The objects can lead to infections, pain, and even death without immediate retrieval of the object.
- Anesthesia errors — Excessive anesthesia can damage the brain. Too little anesthesia can cause the patient to wake up during the procedure, leading to pain and psychological trauma. Moreover, administering anesthesia without fully understanding the patient’s medical history could lead to allergic reactions and lethal consequences.
- Nerve damage — An inexperienced or careless surgeon can damage nerves or tissue surrounding a surgical area. Damage to nerves and tissues may lead to serious and potentially fatal effects.
Aside from the physical injury, the experience can also be emotionally traumatizing for the patient and their family.
Common Causes of Surgical Malpractice
Many reasons or lapses on the surgeon’s part could cause a surgical error. The following are some of the common reasons:
- Fatigue — Although many hospitals limit the hours surgeons can work without rest, doctors are often overworked and exhausted. Serious mistakes can occur during surgery due to the lack of rest.
- Drugs or alcohol use — To combat stress and burnout, surgeons might use drugs or alcohol. Nevertheless, drug or alcohol use is a risky practice that increases the likelihood of errors, putting the patient’s life at risk.
- Improper work process — Sometimes, surgeons take shortcuts during surgery because they believe certain steps are unnecessary. Shortcuts can result in unnecessary complications and life-threatening emergencies.
- Incompetence — An inadequate skill set and lack of training are frequently the causes of surgical errors. Inexperienced surgeons may not perform the surgery correctly or anticipate possible complications.
- Inadequate preoperative planning — A proper plan and preparation will ensure that all necessary instruments are available and in proper working order. Preparation also includes being ready for potential complications.
Getting to the bottom of why the surgical error happened is critical when filing a claim.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim Following Your Surgical Error
You can file malpractice lawsuits against hospitals, clinics, care facilities, and healthcare providers.
To file a legal claim for medical malpractice, you have to demonstrate the following three things:
- Prove that the surgeon is your doctor and has a duty to avoid harming you.
- Prove that your surgeon made a mistake or failed to do something a reasonable surgeon would have done in the same situation.
- Show that the surgical error was the direct cause of your harm or injuries.
Courts usually award victims compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses.
The statute of limitations stipulates the timeframe within which a victim of surgeon malpractice can file a claim. A patient who does not file a claim within the statute of limitations loses the right to sue for surgical or medical malpractice.
Once you have established that you have an arguable medical malpractice case, consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Having a knowledgeable attorney with experience ensures you get the compensation you deserve.
Contact us at Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, if you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you recover damages for your surgical error.