What You Need to Know About Surgical Malpractice
Whether having minor surgery or a quadruple bypass, all surgical procedures should be considered potentially dangerous. Doctors have a duty to follow a certain standard of care when performing surgery on their patients. They should provide the type and level of care an ordinary, prudent health care professional with the same training and experience would provide under the same circumstances. This means they should not make mistakes when performing surgery; however, this is not always the case. Many doctors make significant errors during surgery that can cause a patient pain, suffering, and can even be deadly. The absolute last thing any patient wants to hear after surgery is that a mistake was made.
Why Do Surgical Mistakes Occur?
With all surgeries being unique, every surgical mistake can be unique; however, there are many common reasons for surgical mistakes including:
- Improper Work Processes
- Poor Communication within the Surgical Team
- Doctor Incompetence
- Insufficient Preoperative Planning
- Doctor Fatigue
- Medical Professionals’ Abuse of Drugs or Alcohol
- Poor Documentation of the Patient’s Diagnosis
- Technical Failures with Medical Devices or Other Equipment
- Inadequate Training of Medical Staff
Common Surgical Mistakes
- Performing the Wrong Procedure
After your condition has been diagnosed and your doctor has chosen a specific surgical procedure to help you, it is reasonable to expect the doctors performing the surgery will perform the appropriate operation and then send you on to recovery. Sometimes, though, a surgeon will perform the wrong procedure, which means you will not only have to undergo the originally scheduled surgery at some point, but you will also have to recover from unnecessary surgery. If the doctors injured you during the wrong procedure, you may also need that damage repaired. This is a serious mistake that can have devastating consequences.
Even when a particular part of the body is not being operated on, surgeons can choose to perform a procedure that you have not consented to. One surgeon made an alarming decision without the consent of the patient to entirely remove an organ. According to the Palm Beach Post, Maureen Pacheo checked into Wellington Regional Medical Center in 2016 for a routine back surgery in the wake of a car accident. During the operation, however, Dr. Ramon Vazquez spotted what he thought was a tumor, declared an emergency, and removed it. The only problem was it wasn’t a tumor it was one of her kidneys. The patient herself never had a say in the matter and accordingly filed a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Operating on the Wrong Body Part
It is reasonable to expect your doctor to perform surgery on the correct body part. Whether the left or right arm or leg or the left or right side of the lungs, your doctor should know which body part is being operated on. These sorts of mistakes do occur and can lead to horror stories, including the amputation of the wrong limb.
A Chicago eye surgeon was sued for performing surgery on the incorrect eye of his patient. In that case, the doctor operated on the wrong eye of a patient and then tried to fix his mistake by operating on the correct eye without proper anesthesia. Patients like this, who are victims of medical malpractice committed by an eye doctor, can suffer serious injuries, including blindness, infections, and issues with depth perception and color detection.
- Leaving a Foreign Object Inside a Patient’s Body
When performing complicated surgeries, the surgical team will use a variety of tools during the procedure. These can range from scalpels, clamps, and sponges to absorbent pads and needles. Both the surgeons and nurses are responsible for keeping track of all surgical tools. Unfortunately, some of these tools can mistakenly end up inside of a patient’s body. This is one of the most common surgery mistakes and can lead to severe infections. Many victims require additional surgery to remove the foreign object, which will increase recovery time and can cause further medical problems.
One woman had a terrifying experience when she underwent surgery to have a benign tumor removed. She was discharged even though she was experiencing severe pain in her back, kidney, and abdomen. Less than two weeks later, she was admitted to an emergency room for pain and doctors discovered a pair of eight-inch surgical forceps had been left inside of her abdomen. Unfortunately, the woman’s small intestine looped through the handle of the forceps, requiring surgeons to remove 18 inches of her small intestine to free the forceps.
- Administering Too Much Anesthesia
If an anesthesiologist gives a patient too much anesthesia in error, that mistake can be fatal. Too much anesthesia can deprive the brain of oxygen, which can quickly result in severe brain damage and even death. In other instances, the patient may have a bad reaction to anesthesia which can lead to anaphylaxis. This would require doctors to react quickly to save that patient’s life. If an anesthesia error has occurred, leaving the patient with brain damage or killing them, the patient’s family has the right to pursue financial compensation.
- Inflicting Nerve Damage
Many different people are involved in a surgical team, all working in close proximity and within the patient’s body. Surgeons are often in direct contact with the patient’s nerves while performing surgery on the surrounding tissue. Nerves are very sensitive and even the slightest misstep with a scalpel can cause severe damage and result in physical paralysis. This is a serious mistake that can leave a patient permanently disabled.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorneys
All surgeries carry risks, but if surgical mistakes occur, patients have the right to seek financial compensation for their injuries. While patients might feel afraid to speak out against their surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse, and/or hospital, doing so can prevent more terrible mistakes from happening to other patients – and even save lives. No patient should ever be tricked into receiving inadequate and life-threatening care at the hands of those they’ve trusted with their life. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury and/or had their condition worsened by a surgical procedure, the Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers of Lopez McHugh can speak with you about your situation confidentially and free of charge so you can learn more about your options.