What are some of the common allegations in malpractice cases involving surgery?
- March 29, 2017
The Health and Human Services reported that in 2010, about 180, 000 patients died in Medicare as a result of medical negligence. While this figure has reduced thanks to improved technology in the healthcare industry, medical malpractice still ranks highly as one of the leading causes of death. Surgical errors constitute to a significant number of medical malpractice lawsuits. These errors can be fatal, while others are critical and some minor. Understanding allegations in surgical malpractice helps victims to know when they can file a claim due to medical error. Here are some common allegations:
This happens when a patient receives unnecessary surgery. The surgery may have negative effects and even lasting consequences. Unnecessary surgery may also result from performing surgery on the wrong patient. Recently, investigations show that some hospitals perform unnecessary surgery so as to reap more from Medicare or Medicaid.
Wrong site surgery
This occurs when surgery is done on the wrong part of the body. There have been several cases where patients were amputated on the wrong limb. This has devastating consequences, and victims should immediately file a claim.
Surgical infections mainly arise from using unsanitary surgical tools. The most common infection is cross-contamination. Infections can be severe especially if a patient is suffering from a low or compromised immune system. In some cases, the infection can be fatal. Failure to administer the right post-op care can also result in serious infections. In such cases, the nurses can be held liable.
Surgical instruments left in the body
This may sound shocking, but there have been numerous cases when surgical instruments were negligently left in the body after a surgical incision. In most hospitals, surgical policy dictates that all the surgical instruments should be counted before and after a surgical procedure. However, not all doctors follow these stipulations. Infections and complications are the common risks associated with surgical instruments left in the body.
Internal organ damage
Internal organ damage can happen to the neighboring organs during a surgical procedure. The organs can be accidentally punctured with a laser, a scalpel or scissors. Internal organ damage can lead to severe and lasting health complications.
Nerve damage is mainly as a result of an error when administering anesthesia. There are several instances when anesthesia errors can happen, among them, failing to check the vital signs of the patients, administering too much of anesthesia, improper intubation of patients, or the use of defective equipment.
Medical malpractice legal claims
Doctors are prone to making errors just like in another field of practice. Most surgeons work long hours without taking breaks. Exhaustion and lack of proper rest increase the chance of medical errors. However, medical negligence liability is not pegged on whether the doctor was tired or not. The underlying issue is if the surgical complication or injury could have been avoided had the surgeon exercised the expected standard of care. To prove that a standard of care was breached, the plaintiff must demonstrate how the surgeon failed to measure up while performing the procedure. It must also be established that it is the negligence of the surgeon that resulted in harm to the plaintiff.
A surgical error can lead to huge medical bills and the need for a corrective procedure to rectify the mistake done. In most cases, the patient will be inconvenienced as they need to take time from work. The recovery period may also take longer in the case of a surgical error. In some cases, the error can have long-term effects on the health of the patient. It is also possible for a patient to die as a result of medical negligence. In the event of death, the surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim.
Even with straightforward situations of surgical errors, proving negligence is often a complex process. In light of this, affected victims need to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. These cases are often regulated by rules that may vary from state to state. There is also need to establish the merits of a case before filing a lawsuit. This further emphasizes the need to seek legal expertise.