Most people trust their doctors. Undergoing any surgery can produce anxiety but many patients assume that their surgeon is well-educated, has had many years of training and will perform the surgery as expected. Unfortunately, surgical injuries happen, either through miscommunication, misreading of labels, missed diagnoses, fatigued or intoxicated physicians, and outright incompetence.
In 2003 the Joint Commission Board of Commissioners, an accreditation and certification organization for hospitals, established a universal protocol for all hospitals and office-based surgical sites. In spite of this effort to minimize the risk of surgical injuries, physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff continue to commit errors that can have devastating consequences for victims and their families.
Standard of Care
Surgeons are held to a certain standard of care commensurate with the skills of the average surgeons in the medical community in which he/she practices. If a surgical error is made during a procedure, legal action may be the best path toward monetary recovery. A malpractice lawsuit initiated by the patient or his or her representative will delve into the surgeon’s conduct to determine if he or she performed within these standards
Even if a surgical error led to a serious injury, it does not automatically qualify as a compensable injury under medical malpractice law. Medical malpractice is a particularly specialized area of the law that demands the training, resources and skills of a surgical injury attorney who can properly advise you.
Common Types of Surgical Injuries
- Anesthesiology errors
- Incorrect incisions
- Equipment malfunction
- Leaving an instrument inside the patient
- Wrong site surgery
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Damage to other organs
- Nerve damage
- Post-operative injuries
Any operation involves some inherent risk. Every patient is required to sign a document that warns of the potential risks for given a surgical procedure. However, a surgeon is still held to a certain standard of skill and care in performing the operation. Should a serious medical error occur, the patient or his/her family should immediately contact a surgical injury lawyer.
Malpractice Induced Surgical Injuries
Despite the required protocol that all surgeons and their staff must comply with, injuries do occur. Such injuries might be the result of the following:
Fatigue or inattention - Surgeons work long hours, but this is no excuse for not being rested and having the mental focus required for performing surgery.
Miscommunication - For some reason, the nurse or other staff incorrectly identified the patient or the site to be operated upon, failed to inform the surgeon on a material issue, or misread the drug or its dosage to be administered before, during or after the procedure.
Incomplete pre-operative planning - Physicians are required to evaluate a patient’s health and medical history including: allergies to certain medications, the site of the planned procedure, and other risk factors to ensure that the operation should proceed properly.
Incompetence - Although surgeons amass years of training, not all possess the skills or experience required to adequately perform operations that meet the average standards required. A medical facility employing such a doctor may also be liable for their incompetence.
Neglect- Surgical instruments used may not have been sterilized or were defective. Also, patients need adequate post-operative care to protect against infection, septic shock, failure to heal, and other life-threatening risks.
Medical malpractice claims are vastly different from other personal injury cases with different standards, time constraints, compensation, and required evidence. If you or a loved one has been injured due to potential malpractice, we want to hear from you. Our lawyers have the resources, training and experience to properly advise you of your legal options.