Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney for Surgical Errors
Surgeons are among the most highly skilled professionals. The knowledge, training, and endurance that makes a qualified surgeon are almost unmatched in other fields. However, because operating on the human body is such a rigorous sphere of work, surgeons are held to some of the highest standards of care. If they fail to meet those standards, the betrayal of trust is profound, and the damage caused is often devastating.
If you’ve been harmed by a surgical error, the attorneys at Osborne & Francis are ready to come to your aid. Call us at (561) 293-2600 for a free consultation regarding your circumstances. We’ll answer your questions with respect and understanding, and do everything in our power to help you through this difficult time.
Read on to learn more about surgical errors and how they are handled by the law.
Table of Contents
What Causes Surgical Errors?
If you’ve suffered harm due to a surgical error, you probably want to know why. With all the precision and organization associated with operating rooms, how did your procedure go wrong?
For a specific answer, you may need to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to investigate the cause of your surgical injury and identify all those responsible. However, there are certain general areas of surgical error we can explain.
Here are some of the most common causes of surgical error:
Incompetence of a surgeon or their team can lead to surgical error. An amateur surgeon may take on a surgical task he or she has no experience with due to ambition. A surgeon may be pressured into trying a new procedure because of scheduling matters or hospital convenience. In either instance, they could cause unnecessary harm that a specialized surgeon would avoid.
An operator with less experience than a more practiced surgeon, or a support team that hasn’t worked together before, means there’s a higher chance of error and failure. When it comes to surgical procedures, that is unacceptable.
Improper communications can lead to disastrous mistakes in an operating room. Handwritten notes, electronic messages, or information spoken either in person or over the phone, must be clear, direct, and confirmed to avoid preventable errors.
Improper or Insufficient Planning
Planning a procedure as thoroughly as possible before picking up a scalpel is key. While not all procedures will go according to plan, preparing educated alternatives beforehand makes a surgeon more likely to adapt quickly to keep you safe. Even situations of emergency surgery like those done after an accident or disaster cannot be handled in a cavalier, let’s-see-what-happens manner.
Proper planning means having the right tools and equipment sterilized and ready to go, as well as having the time and space necessary for the procedure and patient recovery. If those minimums are not met, it may be a case of medical malpractice that requires legal consideration.
Making a mistake in the midst of a surgical procedure can be a critical incident, as it could kill or permanently maim the patient. Likewise anesthesia errors, or mistakes made with the surgical instruments or equipment in the room, can mean the difference between life and death.
If the room and tools used during a surgical procedure are not fully sterilized, it could lead to a deadly infection. Similarly, if those in the operating room are not properly gowned, capped, and masked, a sneeze, a button, or hair accessory could impact a vulnerable patient.
Top surgeons can be in high demand. Because the skills necessary to perform a successful operation are so difficult to gain and maintain, there may be a situation where one surgeon in a country or region is the only one who can perform certain lifesaving procedures on brains, hearts, or infants.
If that is the case, a surgeon may be in back-to-back surgeries for days, and the longer that goes on, the more likely it is that they will become fatigued, and more prone to making avoidable errors.
Operating Under the Influence
If you or your loved one has suffered harm from a surgical error, your pain may be worsened if you find out it was because the surgeon was drunk, high, stoned, or otherwise intoxicated during the procedure. Showing up to work hungover is unacceptable in most workplaces, but when it’s done by a surgeon it could be considered criminally negligent.
The same could be true if the surgeon is using stimulants to stay awake and alert. While intention may matter when it comes to the legal consequences they may face, if your surgeon is under the influence of problematic substances while operating on you or your loved one, they should still be held responsible for the harm they’ve caused.
Hiring a surgical error lawyer may be your best hope for finding out what caused your injuries during a procedure, and obtaining the support you need to recover from the damage done. Contact Osborne & Francis to discuss your options and your needs today.
If you’ve suffered harm due to a surgical error, you probably want to know why. For a specific answer, you may need to hire the medical malpractice lawyers at Osborne & Francis to investigate.
What Are the Most Common Types of Surgical Mistakes?
We’ve covered some of the potential reasons behind why surgical errors occur. Now we’ll discuss what those errors mean for the patient.
Keep in mind that these are new injuries caused by surgical error, which may mean your original ailment wasn’t treated at all, or was possibly made worse by the surgery meant to correct it. A delay in surgery due to a botched procedure could cause far more pain and suffering than a correct procedure.
Furthermore, in cases of emergency surgery where there was only one chance to be successful, a surgical error could cause the death of a patient. Such a scenario would likely merit a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit, but no legal action could bring back the person lost. This is why surgical errors are treated with life-and-death seriousness.
Common types of surgical error include:
Wrong-Side and Wrong-Site Errors
Operating on the wrong side of the body, at the wrong site for the procedure, or even just making an accidental incision that wasn’t necessary, are all potential instances of malpractice. These incidents should be 100% avoidable, which is why they’re known as “never events” because they should never happen. When they occur, it’s because something went wrong.
A surgical error attorney may be the person you need to find out what happened and who is responsible.
Items Left Inside the Patient
Also known as “gossypiboma” or items “retained” by the body, these are terms for foreign materials that are accidentally left inside a patient’s body after surgery. Surgical sponges, pads, and clamps that remain in a patient after the procedure can cause later complications like infection, interference in surrounding organ processes, and pain.
Gossypibomas are also instances of “never events,” because if the materials brought into the operating room were properly accounted for at the end of a procedure, no item should be “lost” inside the patient. These types of surgeon errors cannot be overlooked.
Wrong Surgery/Wrong Instruments
If a patient consents to imaging or an exploratory procedure, and wakes up with a part of themselves altered or removed, the violation is severe. Whatever the reason, whether it’s misdiagnosis or miscommunication, it is a clear breach of professional standards.
Likewise, a surgeon may perform the right procedure with wrong or improper instruments. For example, using a blunt tool rather than a precision instrument could be the result of poor planning or incompetence. Either way, if it leads to a larger incision than necessary, that also brings a higher risk of infection, scarring, or other complications.
Improper Monitoring and Anesthesia Complications
Anesthetic complications can be dangerous and even deadly. Surgeries where the patient must be rendered unconscious require a competent anesthesiologist to administer the proper amount of anesthesia, and to monitor the patient’s vitals for any large or subtle changes.
Too much anesthesia could lead to a lack of oxygen, overdose, heart failure, or brain damage in a patient. Too little anesthesia could cause a patient to wake during surgery, and experience the same fear and pain that results from torture. As with the other surgical errors discussed here, this is not how surgeries are supposed to be performed, and such failures are inexcusable.
Nerve or Tissue Damage
A slip of the surgeon’s hand during surgery can sever nerves or damage tissue that did not need to be touched. Such errors could cause permanent nerve damage, paralysis, loss of blood to vital organs, and other complications.
Once more, a practiced surgical error lawyer will help find out the cause of surgical mistakes, because understanding and legally proving the cause is what may get you access to recovery care that you need.
These injuries are not just simple surgical mishaps; these are preventable damages that often result from poor planning, incompetence, and possible negligence.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney will work to prove that the standard safety procedures were known, but ignored or improperly followed by the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and/or nursing staff. This is necessary for securing a settlement or damages award for your future care, and as restitution for pain and suffering you’ve experienced.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about what a settlement or successful verdict for surgical error could mean for your recovery.
What Can a Settlement or Damages Award Mean For Victims of Surgical Errors?
Depending on the injuries caused by the surgical errors you or your loved one have suffered, a medical malpractice settlement or damages award issued by a judge could cover:
- Hospital bills: For any new or extra care required after surgical errors, you deserve to be fully compensated. Your surgical error attorney will also help calculate the care you’ll need going forward, including doctor’s bills, physical therapy, and/or medications.
- Corrective surgeries: These include anything from life-saving surgeries to cosmetic procedures for scarring, whatever is necessary to repair damage or help you feel whole again.
- Disability aids: These are for those who’ve sustained long-term or permanent damage that causes disability. Aids like walkers, wheelchairs, specialty at-home care equipment, and/or caretaker requirements deserve to be fully accounted for.
- Lost wages/future earnings: If you lost wages, employment, or income due to being injured during surgery, it’s the liable party’s responsibility to compensate you and your family.
- Psychological support: Knowing that someone was careless or negligent with your life while you were unconscious and vulnerable can be deeply disturbing. You may need professional psychological help to process these emotions, and deal with the mental harm caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Pain and suffering: This refers to both physical pain and emotional anguish, as well as the cost of your time in dealing with the wrongs you’ve endured due to surgical error. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will help translate such considerations into a context the law can address.
- Punitive damages: In cases where surgical errors were due to negligence or recklessness, a judge may penalize the wrongdoer with “punishment” damages that are then awarded to you.
- Wrongful death expenses: For the surviving family members of those who lost their life due to surgical error, there is legal consideration for many associated costs. The expense of a funeral/burial, the lost income and benefits provided by the deceased (especially if they were a head of household or sole breadwinner), and the irreplaceable loss of their love, care, and companionship.
Reach out to Osborne & Francis today to discuss your specific circumstances, and the kind of support you need.
Client Reviews for Osborne & Francis
The value of an experienced medical malpractice attorney in surgical error cases is that our team does the work so that you can focus on your health in peace. Here are some reviews from clients we’ve helped in their own words.
My review of this TEAM of dedicated people is this... They took my case after others said I had no case. They helped me through the entire process without any false promises. I wanted to also say a special thank you to Mrs. Gina, one of the firm’s Medical/Litigation Paralegals. She told me what to expect next, and how long things would take. We did have a favorable outcome and my daughter is set for life. Forever grateful…
I am so grateful to Osborne and Francis for their help. They were wonderful. They did all the work for me so I was able to recover after 3 surgeries without having to worry about the litigation. I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who is in need of a team of professional, knowledgeable, and very caring attorneys.
I had the misfortune to receive a defective medical device which required additional surgery to remove and replace it. I then conferred with OSBORNE & FRANCIS LAW FIRM. Joe Osborne and his associates, especially Dennis Faulkner, were understanding and extremely helpful in working with me to facilitate all of the necessary information from beginning to end. I was amazed at how quickly and successfully my case was resolved – in only 4 months after my initial consultation. It was truly a pleasure to work with them. I highly recommend them to anyone who needs an attorney!
Contact Osborne & Francis, Surgical Error Lawyers
Taking legal action against a hospital and their insurance companies can seem intimidating, but not to the veteran medical malpractice lawyers at Osborne & Francis. We have proven settlements and verdicts that show our ability to successfully advocate for our clients, and we will do everything in our power to help you get the care you deserve.
Contact us via our online form to schedule a consultation time that works for you, or call us today at (561) 293-2600 to get the answers you need.