One of the leading causes of death in the United States is medical malpractice. Even when a healthcare provider’s negligence does not result in death, it can put a patient in serious danger and the effects may last a lifetime. Medical malpractice can occur in every medical specialty, but a significant number of incidents involve surgical errors.
It is important to note that complications arising from surgery are not necessarily evidence of medical malpractice. The complications must relate specifically to a mistake or wrongful conduct on the part of the surgeon or one of the surgical staff. The following are examples of surgical mistakes that may amount to malpractice.
1. Surgical Instruments Left in the Body
When a member of the surgical team leaves an instrument inside the body it can result in infection or other serious complications. Many hospitals attempt to prevent this by requiring surgeons and assistants to perform a count of all instruments before and after the procedure to make sure all of the tools are accounted for. This is called “Universal Protocol,” but despite the name, it is not required in all hospitals. Surgical instruments are left behind in the body more often than people realize.
2. Internal Organ Damage
Internal organs and other structures — such as nerves and blood vessels — that are adjacent to the site of surgery may suffer accidental puncture or perforation during the procedure. This can cause lasting health issues that are sometimes severe because of the delicacy of organ tissues.
3. Postoperative Infection
There is always a risk of infection after surgery, but if it results from contamination due to improperly sterilized equipment or otherwise unsanitary conditions, that may amount to grounds for a malpractice claim.
4. Unnecessary Surgery
Occasionally, a patient receives a surgery that he or she does not need. Sometimes this occurs as a result of an honest mistake, such as an error in the medical record. Other times doctors and hospitals may arrange for unnecessary surgery on purpose to claim more from a patient’s insurance. Either way, the patient may suffer as a result.
5. Wrong Site Surgery
Other times the surgery is necessary, but the surgeon performs it at the wrong site. For example, the right leg may be amputated when it is the left that is symptomatic, or the wrong kidney may be removed. The consequences for the patient can be devastating, if not deadly.
Filing a medical malpractice suit cannot put right what went wrong, but it can allow you to recover compensation for the harm that has been done to you. Contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer, like a medical malpractice lawyer in Charlottesville, VA, to schedule a consultation with an attorney today.
Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into some of the surgical errors that may occur and could be eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit.