General Surgeons deal mainly with the torso, including the abdominal organs, the esophagus, colon, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and thyroid gland. With the introduction of the endoscope, general surgery has dramatically changed from its beginnings. Endoscopy is used both in treatment and diagnosis especially the digestive and female reproductive systems. Same day surgery centers have also become popular with procedures that take two or less hours and have short recovery periods.
Surgery carries many potential risks and complications. Not every bad outcome that occurs during a surgery or procedure is automatically deemed to be medical malpractice. In fact, most complications are not considered to be malpractice. Often, the issue of malpractice may be determined by the surgeon’s response to a known, but unforeseen complication. Complications are generally defined as the known potential bad outcomes that are associated with performing the surgery or procedure and may occur regardless of the skill level of a surgeon. In other words, they occur even without negligence.
Some potential complications include adverse reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, infection, accidental injury to adjacent organs or tissues, and death. Most of these complications are specifically listed on the consent form which the patient signs before undergoing the procedure. However, just because they are listed on the consent form does not automatically mean that the surgeon or hospital is immune from liability if such a complication occurs.
Whether or not medical malpractice occurred during a surgery or procedure is usually a determination made by an expert in the field of general surgery. Moreover, even if the medical literature has reported a particular complication associated with a procedure, the frequency with which it occurs could impact the determination of whether medical malpractice is involved. If a complication occurs only once every ten thousand surgeries, it may be more likely that this complication occurred as a result of surgeon negligence.
Surgeries and procedures produce a large volume of medical malpractice suits each year. Careful evaluation and screening of these types of cases is the difference in success on the merits of the claim.