Surgical errors are becoming one of the most popular reasons for a medical malpractice lawsuit to occur. This is because hospitals are beginning to become a bit more focused on generating revenue rather than taking care of their patients.
Hospitals do their absolute best to move patients in and out of surgery as quickly as possible. This is to make room for new patients to come in and have their surgeries performed as well. More surgeries equal more patients in and more patients going in means a fatter paycheck coming to the hospital.
This is all fine and well until it begins to increase the number of surgical errors that occur. This metric has been ticking upwards in recent times. Surgical errors can take place in all sorts of severity. Some may be minor and cause little to no issue while more severe errors can lead to the loss of life.
If a surgical error could have been avoided had the doctor not been negligent, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice claim. This is especially true if you can find a medical expert to testify that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would’ve made the correct decision and the injury wouldn’t have occurred.
It’s even possible that an injury is unavoidable, yet the actions taken by a doctor or healthcare professional made the injury worse. In this case, damages will be caused and medical malpractice lawsuits may still be an option.
Common Types of Surgical Errors That May Lead to Medical Malpractice
Surgical errors come in all shapes and sizes. They may be severe, they may be minor, and they may even come in the form of a pair of scissors being left in your abdomen. Some of these may sound crazy, but, unfortunately, they’re more common than you’d likely think.
Here are some of the most common surgical mistakes that occur.
Infection may not seem like a surgical error at first glance, but it occurs more often than you’d imagine. Normally, this happens when a surgeon doesn’t use properly sanitized instruments during the surgery.
This can lead to cross-contamination of a disease. For example, if the previous patient was HIV-positive and then surgical equipment wasn’t properly cleaned, the disease may be spread to the next patient undergoing surgery. Were this to happen to someone, medical malpractice lawsuits would almost certainly be an option.
In rarer cases, a patient may have a compromised immune system. In this case, when cross-contamination occurs, the results can lead to infection and sepsis. In the end, the infection may even prove fatal. If this were to occur, medical malpractice would be on the table as well.
Surgery Done on the Wrong Site
Surgery is done on the wrong part of your body is a nightmare come true. While these cases are extremely rare, they’re quite easy to prove when they do occur.
An example may be when a patient comes in for an amputation due to infection or another disease. In this example, the doctor removes the left leg instead of the right leg and causes the patient to lose both legs in the process. This is because while the wrong leg was removed, the original leg that still needs to go must also be removed.
In these cases, medical malpractice is generally fairly easy to prove. However, these cases are few and far between as the level of negligence required for this to happen is quite severe.
Surgical Instruments Left Behind
Leaving instruments behind during surgery is more than likely a tale you’ve heard before. Unfortunately, this is more common than you might think.
Many surgical instruments are quite small and easy to lose track of. This is especially true when a small incision is required during the surgery. While the instrument will have a harder time falling into a small incision, once it’s fallen inside it may be quite difficult to find.
Most of the time, hospitals will require that all instruments and equipment used during surgery be accounted for before the operation is labeled completed, not all do. This is mostly due to the hospital wanting patients in and out of operating rooms as soon as possible.
When this happens, severe complications can occur. Anything from lacerations to internal organs and infections may occur.
Damage Done to Internal Organs
Many surgeries require the use of razor-sharp equipment. This is because using too dull of a knife or blade may cause more harm than necessary. On the downside, extremely sharp tools will penetrate other internal organs rather easily.
Damage occurring to internal organs during surgery may be perforated or punctured by a laser, scissors, scalpel, or any number of sharp instruments that are found within an operating room.
Sometimes small cuts or damages to your internal organs don’t lead to anything. The body is quite good at healing itself, especially in minor cases. However, damage done to your internal organs may very well be extremely serious and cause lasting health issues or even death.
Unnecessary Surgery/Surgery Done to the Wrong Patient
Unnecessary surgery/surgery done to the wrong patient is the least likely scenario out of all surgical errors that result in medical malpractice lawsuits. However, they’re not unheard of.
This occurs when a doctor, nurse, or hospital staff misidentify the patient and bring them in for a surgery that they don’t need. Not only will this cause undue harm and injury to a patient, but it may also delay the surgery for the patient that needs it.
In this case, sometimes both the patient who received the wrong surgery and the patient who the surgery was intended for may find the reasonable claim to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Finally, nerve damage is one of the more common surgical errors that can result in medical malpractice.
Generally, this will occur when a mistake in the administration of anesthesia occurs. However, nerve damage may occur due to several other things such as unnecessary surgery or penetration of various internal organs.
Next Steps in Filing a Lawsuit
If you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys as soon as possible on (215) 735-4800