Over 200 million surgical procedures are performed each year globally, and regardless of the awareness of adverse effects, surgical errors still occur at an alarmingly high rate. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, in the United States alone, a minimum of 4,000 surgical errors take place each year.
Although most surgeries that are performed in the U.S. go well, sometimes serious mistakes occur during surgery due to the negligence of a medical professional. When this occurs, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim and seek compensation for your damages.
No matter the severity of your surgery, the last thing a patient wants to hear is that an error occurred. However, just because an error occurred does not automatically mean that it was due to medical malpractice. Throughout this article, you will find information that will detail different types of surgical errors, help you determine when a surgical error amounts to medical malpractice and if your case qualifies for compensation.
Simply put, a surgical error is a preventable mistake that occurs during surgery. As we all know, all surgeries pose some element of risk. Because of this, it is common to sign a form prior to undergoing surgery that states that you understand that surgery involves a known risk. This is known as “informed consent.” However, surgical risks go far beyond the known risks of surgery–they are unexpected.
There are many different types of surgical errors that medical professionals can commit, leading to lifelong complications for patients and their loved ones. Some of the most common surgical mistakes include:
No matter what the cause was for your surgical error, it can cause life-threatening or debilitating complications, including:
Due to the severe nature that surgical errors often pose, extensive and ongoing care to treat or correct the mistake is inevitable. A few common treatments following surgical errors include:
No two surgeries are the same. That is why each surgical error has the potential to be unique. However, here are some common reasons that surgical errors take place:
The list of possible causes goes on and on. However, if you believe your surgical error was due to the negligence of another, you will most likely be able to pursue a medical malpractice case.
When you are injured due to a surgical error, you may be wondering if it means that medical malpractice has occurred. Although most times it may, the mere fact that a surgical error took place does not ensure that someone (or anyone) is liable for medical malpractice. In order to determine if it is medical malpractice, the medical treatment in question, whether it was a surgical procedure or not, has to follow the practices of an accepted medical standard of care. Additionally, the sub-standard treatment must have directly harmed you.
In other terms, if the medical error did not fall below the medical standard of care, or the treatment/surgery did not cause you harm, no malpractice occurred. A general standard of care definition is “the type and level of care that an ordinary, prudent, medical professional, with the equivalent training and experience, would provide under the same, or similar, circumstances in the same community.”
In the majority of surgical error cases, it is reasonably simple to prove that your medical professional’s treatment was below the standard of care. If you are able to prove that a surgical error violated that standard of care, the issue becomes whether or not you were harmed by the error.
Although surgical errors are not always as obvious as leaving gauze inside a patient or operating on the wrong body part, they can come in a more subtle form, such as a surgeon failing to exercise reasonable care at any point during the surgery. It’s important to keep in mind that medical professionals are humans, and like the rest of us, they too can be exhausted from working too many hours in a day when performing surgery or become sick but still show up to work. It is not as easy to “call in sick” when you are a surgeon that has multiple operations scheduled in a day.
However, whether or not the surgical injury could have been avoided if the standard of care had been exercised is the issue at hand. When establishing the medical standard of care in a medical malpractice case, there are a couple of critical steps. Those include:
Once those three key factors have been established, you most likely have a valid medical malpractice case. What you do next is essential.
Once you have established that you have an arguable medical malpractice case, it is important to consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Regardless of the type of surgical error you have suffered, having a knowledgeable attorney who has experience in medical malpractice claims makes all the difference. They will have an understanding of common surgical procedures and the risks they pose as well as the resources to consult with medical professionals on what the medical standard of care is. These third-party medical professionals are a huge help in determining if a surgical error actually occurred and if it was the error that caused the complications the patient is currently facing.
The Cochran Firm has the resources to access and hire top medical experts in any field of medicine to help prove your case. Many of our offices have in-house nurses and physicians that help us research difficult medical issues and provide screening in complicated cases. Let our experienced medical malpractice team review your case today. As with all of our reviews, it is at no cost to you. And if we take your case, we do not charge a fee unless a recovery is obtained on your behalf. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Your lawyer can fight insurance companies and larger corporations that typically own hospitals or operating centers to ensure that you receive the compensation that you truly deserve. Because surgical errors can lead to severe, life-long difficulties, your lawyer can seek damages to compensate you for both present and future complications.
In some instances, surgical errors may not be discovered for days, weeks, months, or even years after an operation occurs. For example, if a medical instrument or piece of gauze is left inside the patient, it could remain inside the patient and not cause any harm until long after the surgery took place. In these cases, a patient may not remember who the operating surgeon was or be unable to find them because they no longer work at the same hospital.
However, there are many contributing factors that lead to medical mistakes, and it may not only be the surgeon that is liable for your surgical error injuries. In some cases, the hospital in which the operation took place can be held vicariously liable for medical professionals' negligence.
Under the legal doctrine “respondeat superior,” an employer can be held liable for the negligence of one of its employees as long as the negligent act occurred within the scope of employment. This means that a hospital can be held vicariously liable for a medical mistake of a doctor as long as the following criteria can be proved:
Sometimes, hospitals will claim that the medical professionals that performed the operation were not employees but instead are independent contractors, and therefore there is no hospital malpractice. However, the hospital can be held liable for its own negligence if it fails to properly investigate the credentials of an acting physician before allowing them to perform surgeries at the hospital or allowing a physician to treat patients when the hospital knew they were incompetent.
Vicarious liability applies to both hospitals and doctors themselves for mistakes that resulted from negligence. This includes mistakes made by interns and medical students who were operating under a doctor’s supervision. If you believe that you have suffered from a surgical error injury because of the negligence of another party, contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
If you have proven that a negligent surgeon was the reason for your injuries, you may be able to collect compensation through a medical malpractice case. The most common types of economic and non-economic compensatory damages you may be eligible for consist of:
The unfortunate truth is that thousands of patients are injured by surgical errors each year. These preventable mistakes often lead to medical malpractice claims against medical providers, hospitals, and surgical centers. The injuries that patients face from surgical errors can be very severe and sometimes even end in lifelong care and treatment. Not only do victims of surgical errors face physical damage, but they can also experience emotional and financial damage as well. If you or a loved one has been injured from surgical errors, contact our medical malpractice attorneys today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
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You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. The Cochran Firm’s results have been well documented and demonstrated both in the courtroom and at settlement conferences. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.
If you’re looking for an experienced medical malpractice attorney to help you pursue justice for your surgical error, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation. We serve the entire country with offices in many major U.S. cities.
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