There is no denying that undergoing surgery is an extremely frightening prospect for people. Patients expect their surgeons and assisting nurses to be properly trained and offer proper surgical and post-surgical treatment and care. However, surgical errors still occur frequently and tend to affect patients and their families. They are shocked about how an error could take place and wonder what legal options they should pursue. At the Moore Law Firm, we provide specialist representation for people, who have sustained serious injuries or have died due to surgical and post-surgical mistakes.
Our experienced surgical error lawyers in Tucson understand that surgical errors can take place in any area of medical practice. We also represent people, who have sustained injuries during gynecology/obstetrics, orthopedics, ophthalmology, oncology, cardiology and other types of surgeries. We have the knowledge, resources, and commitment to successfully handle all types of medical malpractice claims. Our in-depth knowledge of various types of surgical errors, allows us to pursue litigation for mistakes like the following:
- Anesthesia errors/over-sedation
- Surgery on the wrong organ
- Surgery on the wrong limb
- Laceration of an organ
- Failure to detect and repair a laceration
- Instruments left in patients
- Post-surgical infections
Get in touch with the Moore Law Firm for a free consultation on surgical error and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Causes of a Surgical Mistake
The NIH published a comprehensive analysis of surgical errors in closed malpractice claims from multiple insurers, to identify the major causes of surgical errors. The malpractices studied that 65% involve significant or major injury, while 23% involved death.
The study revealed that 75% of surgical errors happened in intraoperative care, while 25% took place before surgery, and 35% happened in post-operative care. More than one medical professional was responsible for surgical errors in 62% of the cases. The common errors made in these malpractice cases by surgeons and medical professionals were:
- Common breakdown
- Lack of technical competence or inexperience
There were also additional factors that contributed to surgical errors in those cases, which included:
The medical staff and surgeons work extremely long hours and are often fatigued when performing multiple surgeries in a day.
Surgeons can make poor decisions when under pressure and their carelessness or recklessness can have devastating effects on the patient and their family.
Medical staff and surgeons can also be distracted or inattentive when caring for patients or while performing surgery.
Common Types of Surgical Errors
A malpractice study from John Hopkins revealed that preventable surgical errors, which are known as “Never Events”, took place an estimated 10,000 times in the United States over the last decade. These surgical errors should never have happened, and the study also revealed that almost every surgeon makes the following medical errors at an alarming rate:
Injuring organs during surgery
Internal organs can be injured or nicked during abdominal surgeries. The bowel is vulnerable to puncture due to its length and structure.
Wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient
The patient is under anesthesia and therefore can’t protest if the surgeon performs the wrong surgical procedure on the wrong part of the body, or performs a surgery intended for another patient. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services revealed that such errors happen rarely, but they have taken place before, which is terrifying.
A surgeon’s error can easily rupture a nerve, or an error in anesthesia administration can cause nerve damage, which can be permanent.
Contamination and infection
Unsanitary medical instruments used in surgery can cause disease cross-contamination, which can develop sepsis and serious infections in patients. The NIH study revealed that contamination accounted for 26% of surgical errors discovered.
A foreign object left in the body
The John Hopkins study revealed that this shocking error is committed by surgeons approximately 40 times a week!
Medicine can seriously harm patients in various ways. Mistakes are caused by incorrect dosage, labeling errors, neglecting to treat a problem shown by the patient’s vital signs, and documentation errors. Anesthesia is the most common drug used in surgery, and an anesthesia overdose can cause serious injuries and even death if not administered properly.
Who May Be Liable for a Surgical Error?
All medical professionals in the surgery room have a legal duty to ensure that the surgery is conducted properly and must pay full attention to all the details. The personnel in the surgery room include:
Residents or medical students
Operating room nurses
Medical device company representatives
Certified registered nurse anesthetists
Any of the individuals mentioned above could be held liable for your surgery injury, depending on the circumstances. Our surgical error lawyers will review every detail of your surgical lawsuit to determine what parties contributed to your injury and could be liable for your injuries or death.
Get in touch with the Moore Law Firm today to make an appointment for a free case review.
Consequences of Surgical Errors
We have already discussed the severe consequences of surgical errors. Our surgical error lawyers in Tucson have experience in helping patients and their families acquire the compensation they deserve, after medical malpractice that caused:
Loss of a limb’s use
All victims of medical malpractice have the right to pursue compensation for their injuries, which can include medical expenses accrued due to the surgery mistake, loss of earning capacity, along with the pain and suffering caused by the surgical error.
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Not All Cases Involve Malpractice
It is important to note that a bad outcome after surgery doesn’t automatically qualify as medical malpractice. For instance, in the case of an anesthesia allergy, the patient has no way of knowing that they are allergic to anesthesia and therefore, the doctors had no knowledge of it as well.
However, there are certain standards of care for all surgical procedures, and medical professionals have a duty to adhere to all of them.
How to Avoid a Surgery Mistake
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons urges members to initial the site before surgery. However, no matter how skilled the surgeon is, mistakes can happen.
Nearly 4,000 serious surgical errors occur every year. To make sure that it doesn’t happen to you, there are things you can do to help yourself, surgeon, and hospital staff.
1. Do some research on your doctor and the hospital
Ask your doctor how many times he or she has performed this procedure, and compare that with other physicians. The websites HealthGrades.com or LeapfrogGroup.org rank hospitals by specialty. You’ll be able to compare all the hospitals in Tucson, or even the country if you choose. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (hhs.gov) has information about procedures that have been performed at different hospitals.
2. Introduce yourself to everyone
Tell everyone who you are and what kind of surgery you are there for. This can help prevent you receiving a surgery intended for someone down the hall.
3. Ask your doctor to initial your surgery’s site
Make sure you and your surgeon are on the same page. Ask them, not somebody else, to sign where the procedure will be.
See the Association of Surgical Technologists’ Standards of Practice for Patient Identification, Correct Surgery Site and
Correct Surgical Procedure here.
4. Confirm the surgery site with the surgeon right before the procedure
After they initial the location, agree that it is in the right place. You may have already talked to the nurses, but it’s the surgeon who’s doing the actual procedure. If you do not see your surgeon beforehand, tell someone directly that you are not going back to surgery until you see your doctor and we confirm what they are going to perform and where.
5. Make sure you have an advocate
Don’t just bring a good friend or a reliable family member to your surgery; make sure they know everything. There is going to be a lot going on. You may be anxious or medicated and not able to think clearly. Having someone to help with things like checking the initials on the surgical site or help you contact your surgeon in an invaluable resource.
At the Moore Law Firm, our experienced surgical error lawyers will evaluate your claims and offer a free consultation. We are specialists in medical malpractice cases and have connections with leading medical experts, who can determine the nature of the surgical mistake that resulted in your injury.