All surgical procedures are equally critical. The stakes are high, from removing an appendix to serious surgical matters like an organ transplant. An operating room is expected to function like a well-oiled machine. The surgeon and the team must ensure proper communication and uphold strict care standards to ensure a favorable surgical outcome.
Surgical errors can occur when one of the individuals involved in the surgical procedure is reckless or fails to perform their duty of care towards the patient. A surgical error is a preventable mistake during a surgical procedure. Surgical errors are deadly and often result in additional medical expenses for repeat surgeries, permanent damage to the body, and even death.
The last thing you want to hear after surgery is that an error occurred. Most causes of surgical errors are negligent acts from surgeons, medical staff, and the hospital. Therefore, if you or your loved one is a victim of surgical error, you can recover compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the parties liable for the error. At Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we offer expert legal guidance to clients battling medical malpractice lawsuits in Phoenix, AZ.
Overview of Surgical Errors
A surgical error is any preventable complication in a surgical procedure. While treating patients, doctors and other medical practitioners make mistakes that can cost your life and bring financial strain to you and your family. Surgical error is one of the most threatening forms of medical malpractice. Sustaining an injury from another person’s negligence can leave you with worse conditions, disabilities, and significant financial losses.
Additionally, you will be left to deal with psychological trauma for a lifetime. Although a surgical error can permanently alter your life, some people are unsure how to proceed. Other people wait too long, which prevents them from recovering rightful compensation. When you are a victim of a surgical error, you can file a civil lawsuit against the person liable for the error and recover compensation for your losses.
Causes of Surgical Errors
Surgeries are not similar. Therefore, each surgical error may be unique to your type of procedure. The following are common reasons for surgical errors:
- Incompetence. Sometimes, a surgeon may not have enough experience to perform a particular surgery. While this is strange, it could happen in your case, especially when the surgeon is right from school or the case is complicated.
- Improper work process. Surgeons can make unnecessary moves during surgery while attempting to take a short cut leading to an error.
- Poor preoperative planning. The time before and after surgery is critical to the outcome and success of the procedure. Preoperative procedures include reviewing patients, checking for underlying conditions, and anticipating potential complications. Additionally, preparation for surgery can include nursing care and ensuring all equipment are ready. Failure to do this could result in serious surgical errors and life-changing complications.
- Poor communication. The surgeon works with a team of health practitioners for a successful surgery. Communication failure within the team can cause critical errors. For example, if a patient needs medication through the surgery, miscommunication on the right drug and dosage can be critical to the surgery outcome.
- Fatigue. Most surgeons work long shifts, which can result in fatigue. A tired person is more likely to make unforeseeable mistakes.
- Alcohol or drug use. While it is unethical and against the profession, some surgeons and medical teams use drugs to eliminate fatigue and frustrations associated with their work. Unfortunately, this practice can endanger the lives of individuals who entrust their lives to surgeons.
- Unsanitary conditions. Patients believe that hospitals and operating rooms are completely sanitary. However, this is not always the case. The use of unsanitary equipment to perform surgery can cause severe infections, which are sometimes life-threatening.
- Neglect. Some surgeons are not as careful as you expect for surgical procedures. This could range from ensuring that the process is planned correctly to ensuring all staff cooperates for a successful procedure and making the right decisions during surgery.
Common Surgical Errors
The following are some of the surgical errors that a surgeon can commit, leading to a lifetime of suffering for a patient:
Operating the Wrong Body PartErrors done by operating on the wrong side of the body part or an entirely different body location can result in unnecessary incisions and an increased risk of infection or scarring. When a surgeon fails to realize the error quickly, you can suffer an unnecessary organ removal or destruction of a healthy body part.
Accidental IncisionYou can be a victim of accidental incision when the wrong body part is marked, or the mark goes beyond necessary. Such an error may occur due to recklessness or inattention in the preoperative phase of the surgery. The doctor may need another incision to access the problematic body region.
Improper monitoringDepending on the extent of the surgical procedure, you must undergo constant monitoring to ensure the vital signs are normal under the circumstances. Failure to monitor the vital signs and act accordingly can cause life-threatening complications.
Anesthesia ComplicationsAnesthesiologists and nurses are responsible for administering the right dosages of anesthesia and monitoring the patient’s response to the drug. Unfortunately, a negligent nurse or anesthesiologist can administer the wrong drug dosage, causing serious allergic reactions that affect the surgical outcome.
Wrong Type of SurgeryMisdiagnosis and miscommunication between the medical team could result in performing surgeries on the wrong part of the body. Regardless of the underlying cause, performing the wrong surgery is a form of medical malpractice that will warrant filing a personal injury claim.
Leaving Foreign Objects Inside the BodyIt is not uncommon for a surgeon to leave a foreign item inside a patient’s body after surgery. Some of these foreign objects include sponges, gauze, or sharp tools. Leaving these objects in your body will cause serious pain and require additional surgical procedures to remove them.
Use of Wrong Surgical InstrumentsUsing the wrong tools for surgery stems from improper training or recklessness. When a surgeon uses the wrong tool, there is an increased risk of injury and infections.
Lack of Informed ConsentAll surgeries have a risk. Therefore, the medical team must explain the complications and expected outcome of the procedure to ensure that they make informed consent. Performing a surgery without informed consent could result in a lawsuit if the surgery produces harmful side effects.
Complications Associated with Surgical Errors
Regardless of the root cause of the mistake, a surgical error can result in severe and life-threatening complications to the patients, including the following:
- Organ damage. When the surgeon uses the wrong tools or performs surgery on the wrong body part, damage to the internal organs is a possible complication. Organ damage is a life-threatening injury, especially when it is not detected early.
- Internal Bleeding. Although bleeding is a common risk of all surgeries, you could suffer internal bleeding due to the recklessness and negligence of the medical team. Unnecessary incisions can cause damage to the blood vessels causing internal bleeding. Undetected internal bleeding after surgery is a risk of death.
- Nerve damage. The damage to nerves is a complication that results from incorrect incisions or the use of wrong tools. This can cause muscle weakness or paralysis of the affected region. Sometimes, you may need additional surgery and rehabilitation to regain strength.
- Scarring and disfigurement. When a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or makes unnecessary incisions, the risk of scarring and disfigurement is high. Additionally, you can lose some parts of your body through amputation and organ loss.
- Death. Many patients have lost their lives owing to preventable surgical errors. You can die from internal bleeding or even allergies associated with administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia.
With these complications from a surgical error, you may need additional surgeries to correct the undesirable outcome. This puts the patients under trauma and pressure. Additionally, the financial aspect associated with continuous care and the inability to perform daily tasks or go to work can take a toll on you and your family.
If you are a victim of complications of a surgical error or lost a loved one, you can recover compensation by filing a claim against the negligent parties.
Liability in a Surgical Error Lawsuit in Arizona
Surgical errors are some of the most severe mistakes a doctor can make. When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a surgical error, establishing liability is a significant part of claiming compensation. Understanding liability issues will help you understand your legal rights and recover maximum compensation. An individual is liable for your injuries under the following circumstances:
- The party owed you a duty of care. The established patient-doctor relationship implies an automatic duty of care. The duty of care is the responsibility to ensure the safety of another person. While they offer medical care and perform different procedures, the surgeons must prioritize your well-being.
- The defendant breached the duty. A person breaches their duty of care towards you by acting in a way that places you at significant risk of injury or death. When a doctor fails to exercise reasonable care, they are considered to have breached their duty.
- The breach of duty caused your injuries. Before you can recover compensation for your medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant’s actions caused your injuries.
- You suffered damages. Surgical errors cause serious health complications, which can strain your financial life. When claiming compensation, you must present evidence of the losses you suffered.
The first person you think about in a surgical error lawsuit is the surgeon in charge of perfuming the surgery. The doctor is responsible for ensuring the safety of all patients in the operating room. You can file a claim against the doctor if anything is done pre- or post-operative to harm a patient.
Most medical facilities try to separate the hospital from the actions of a negligent doctor. However, if you can prove that the hospital knew of the doctor’s history of making errors and allowed them to perform the surgery, you can file a claim against the hospital.
Compensation Benefits in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, other medical staff, or the hospital, you stand to recover compensations for the following damages:
Sometimes, correcting the complications of a surgical error will require another surgery and prolonged hospital stays. Compensation in your medical malpractice lawsuit will include compensation for these costs:
- Emergency room care.
- Additional surgery.
- Specialist visits.
- Medical equipment.
- Rehabilitation therapy.
You can recover for these costs if your injuries require future medical care. However, when claiming compensation for medical expenses, you will need to provide evidence of injuries and medical records to show the cost of treatment.
Lost Wages/ Future Earning Capacity
Complications of surgical error are serious and sometimes life-changing. While you undergo treatment and rehabilitation to correct the complications associated with the error, you could miss out on weeks or months of work.
You will be commented on the earnings you lost while away from work. If your injuries are permanent or take time to recover, you will be compensated for the present and future lost earnings.
Pain and Suffering
A victim of surgical error will not only suffer physical pain but can undergo emotional and psychological trauma. Although pain and suffering cannot be quantified or equated to money, the compensation you receive will help you cope with the financial difficulties of your injury.
Others Forms of Medical Malpractice
In addition to a surgical error, you can claim compensation for any of the following types of medical malpractice:
Wrong diagnosis is a common basis for medical malpractice lawsuits. A misdiagnosis happens when the doctor indicates the wrong health condition after an assessment. A misdiagnosis lawsuit can arise when a patient’s condition worsens because of the failure to receive the right treatment. A lawsuit can also arise when a patient suffers the side effects of unnecessary treatment.
Not all cases of misdiagnosis will warrant a medical malpractice lawsuit. A doctor could be a defendant in a misdiagnosis lawsuit if they failed to offer the level of care that a similar-skilled professional would have provided.
Failure to Treat
Sometimes, a correctly diagnosed patient fails to receive the necessary treatment. You could suffer a negligent failure to treat when a doctor has work overloads and fails to prioritize your condition.
Doctors with many patients waiting in line for them may be unable to practice diligence when deciding on treatment. Failure to give referrals to specialists or early discharge can cause a negligent failure to treat.
Sometimes, a delayed diagnosis is linked to a wrong diagnosis. This is because when a doctor makes a wrong diagnosis of your condition before and begins treatment, it may take a while to receive the correct diagnosis and start appropriate treatment.
A delayed diagnosis could be medical malpractice if the doctor’s initial diagnosis was negligent and did not meet the standards expected for a doctor of the same skill or experience level.
Welcoming an infant is a cherished moment for many people. However, when medical professionals handling labor and delivery fail to exercise the right level of care, birth injuries can occur.
Although an expectant parent can plan for many things, a birth injury is not an anticipated outcome. A birth injury can have a devastating outcome, including the death of the mother and child. Malpractice leading to birth injuries includes:
- Failure to detect severe complications.
- Inadequate prenatal care.
- Incorrect use of assistive devices can cause serious conditions like cerebral palsy.
- Unnecessary C-sections.
- Anesthesia errors during C-sections.
- Failure to monitor the mother and baby during labor.
Defective Medical Devices
Use of defective medical devices for diagnosis and treatment can cause serious injuries or death. For example, using the wrong feeding or air tubes can cause organ perforations, a life-threatening condition.
If you are a victim of a surgical error or other forms of medical malpractice, you are entitled to compensation.
Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
Surgical error is one of the many forms of medical malpractice that can affect you in seeking medical care. Unfortunately, thousands of patients suffer injuries from surgical errors each year. A surgical error may range from administering the wrong medication to surgeries on the wrong part and leaving surgical tools in the body.
These errors may mandate repeat surgeries and sometimes long-life care for the patients. When you consent to undergo surgery, you expect to be better than when you enter. However, neglect and recklessness from the surgical team can cause severe complications. Having to deal with the health and financial repercussions of a surgical error is challenging.
If you or your loved one battle a personal injury claim for injuries and losses resulting from a surgical error, you will require the guidance of a skilled personal injury lawyer to navigate your case. At Phoenix Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we understand the devastation of dealing with the aftermath of surgical errors. We offer expert guidance for all our clients to ensure a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Phoenix, CA. Call us today at 602-641-9589 to discuss the details of your case.