Surgery is physically and emotionally. And the last thing you need are extra complications that slow down your recovery.
But this doesn’t mean you’re responsible for those complications. If you or a loved one have suffered surgical injuries from a medical operation, you may be entitled to legal action and collect damages for your extra suffering.
Surgical Injuries Are Not Uncommon
According to studies from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a “sizable number of Americans are harmed as a result of medical errors.”
In their report, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, the NCBI cited data showing that surgical injuries are not as uncommon as one may think:
- In 1997 alone, it’s estimated that anywhere between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans died as a result of a preventable medical injury.
- “Preventable adverse [medical] events” is the most prominent cause of death in the U.S.
- A study based on two medical university hospitals found that as much as 2% of admitted patients experience a preventable medical drug-related injury.
- Researchers concluded that at least two-thirds of their medical injury case studies were preventable.
So how do you know if you’re eligible for legal action?
Let’s take a quick look at what surgical injuries are and aren’t.
What Is A Surgical Injury?
Legally speaking, a surgical injury is a type of medical malpractice that results from a neglectful physician, medical staff, or hospital.
However, not all injuries associated with surgeries are eligible for legal action.
It’s important to note that all patients must sign Informed Consent forms before undergoing surgery. Informed consent means that the patient acknowledges that they are fully aware of the risks associated with that particular surgery.
If the harm caused by your surgical injury is from non-adherence to the Medical Standard of Care, the physician or hospital was negligent.
The Medical Standard of Care refers to an efficient level or quality of medical care that’s carried out by professionally trained physicians, surgeons, medical staff, and their institutions. Think of it as a general rule book shared by the medical community at large.
To determine if medical malpractice has occurred, legal experts look at each case and apply the “Medical Standard of Care”. Then they determine if similarly trained and skilled medical professionals would make a similar decision in that case.
If it’s determined that your injury did not result from non-adherence to the standard of care, then you did not suffer a surgical injury under the law.
To see if your case warrants legal action, let’s go over the five most common reasons surgical injuries occur.
5 Common Reasons For Your Surgical Injury
Surgical injuries that are eligible for medical malpractice suits are caused by surgical errors. Legally, the Medical Standard of Care, considers surgical errors as preventable .
Here are the five most common reasons for surgical errors:
1. Medical Incompetence
A leading cause of surgical injuries is a medically incompetent surgeon or staff.
These errors occur when a surgeon or staff member is not properly trained in the procedure itself, basic surgical methods, or other protocols followed by professionals who are in line with the Medical Standard of Care.
These types of errors can often lead incompetent surgeons to not finish the procedure at all.
2. Poor Pre-Surgery Protocol
Another primary cause of surgical injuries is not preparing properly before a surgery.
Planning makes perfect. At the very least, your doctor’s pre-surgery protocol should include:
- Properly reviewing your medical file.
- Reviewing details of the surgery itself.
- Preparing for all known complications and those disclosed in your “informed consent” forms.
- Thorough cleaning and sterilization of surgical tools.
- Proper operating room preparation.
- Making sure all tools and equipment is fully-functioning and ready.
- Proper following of nurse and staff protocols
Under the law, neglect is when a surgeon or member of a hospital’s medical staff is not careful during a procedure.
Neglect can include the following actions:
- Not paying attention during surgery.
- Not using the right surgical tools.
- Using knowingly broken or defective tools and equipment
- Improperly sterilizing tools. This also falls under the first two reasons discussed.
- Following the wrong operating method for a particular surgery.
4. Under The Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
This reason may not immediately come to mind. Why would a professional surgeon drink or do drugs on the job?
Unfortunately, it does happen, and is a leading cause of surgical injuries.
Surgeons are notorious for being under inordinate amounts of stress. Sadly, some surgeons turn to drugs and alcohol which leads to injuries or even fatalities.
Being under the influence can lead to the surgical errors already discussed and then some.
5. Fatigue On The Job
Another consequence of being under the influence during surgery is fatigue. It is also our fifth most common reason for surgical injuries.
A surgeon may also grow fatigued from the following circumstances:
- Extremely long work shifts.
- Dehydration from lack of water or fluids.
- Extreme hunger
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Not getting enough sleep
Fatigue can cause even the best surgeons to make simple yet costly errors. Fatigue also leads to irrational thinking, migraines, and memory loss during surgery as well.
More Reasons For Surgical Injuries
Aside from these top 5 reasons for surgical errors, the following reasons can also lead to medical malpractice:
- Poor communication: Failing to communicate properly to staff leads to costly errors like preparing the wrong surgical site on a patient or prescribing the wrong post-surgery medication.
- Cutting Corners: Due to fatigue or the desire to save time, a surgeon make decide to bypass certain steps they feel aren’t necessary for the surgery. However, this is often a mistake that results in medical malpractice suits.
What You Can Do To Take Action
If you or a member of your family suspect a surgical injury has occurred, you must first have your case reviewed by a legal expert. This will give you the peace of mind of knowing whether or not medical malpractice has actually occurred.
To get started, gather up all medical forms and any information you may have and schedule your free consultation today.