Few things make people more anxious than an upcoming surgery. We have all heard the horror stories about a doctor botching the procedure and leaving the patient to face a lifetime of adverse consequences of the surgical mistakes. There are several steps you can take to reduce your chances of being the victim of a surgical error.
Five Serious Surgical Errors and How to Prevent Them
The medical community keeps track of significant surgical errors. Medical professionals are supposed to report Serious Reportable Events (SREs) that happen during a surgery or other invasive procedure.
Here are the five categories of SREs and steps you might take to prevent these accidents from happening to you:
One error is the surgeon unintentionally leaving a foreign object inside the patient. Some foreign objects should remain in the patient, such as plates and screws to repair and stabilize a shattered bone. Other items, like sponges or clamps, can cause life-threatening infections, perforate organs, and create extreme pain if accidentally left inside the body after surgery.
While you cannot keep this from happening, you can discover right away if the surgical team left behind any unwanted souvenirs. Get a copy of the surgical notes. Read the pre-surgical count of sponges, clamps, and other objects and make sure it matches up with the post-surgical inventory.
Mix Up With Patients
With the high numbers of patients going through pre-op, anesthesia, surgery, recovery, and post-op in busy hospitals and outpatient surgery centers, sometimes the staff mix up the patients or their charts.
To make sure that the doctor knows which patient you are during the surgery, insist that your doctor, anesthesiologist, or another medical professional who talks with you in pre-op writes your name and the type of surgery with a surgical marking pen at the place on your body where the doctor will operate.
Wrong Type of Surgery
Surgeons are human beings, and sometimes they make mistakes, such as performing the wrong type of surgery on the patient. You do not want to wake up in recovery to discover that you had a complete hysterectomy when you went in to have a cyst removed.
The incorrect procedure is another error that you can prevent by having a member of the medical staff in pre-op write your name and the type of surgery at the incision site on your body with a surgical marker.
Wrong Part of the Body
Another serious surgical error is when the surgeon performs the correct type of procedure on the right patient but on the wrong part of the body. For example, the doctor removed the healthy kidney instead of the malignant one. The patient is left without a functioning kidney.
If you have the pre-op team write the name of the body part, for example, “right kidney” at the incision location and “NO” over the left kidney, you can sharply reduce the odds of a mix-up.
When a patient of normal health who does not smoke or abuse alcohol dies during or shortly after surgery, the surgical team must report the occurrence. Sometimes these patients die from previously undiscovered medical conditions, but others are the victims of medical error. Prevention of these errors will depend on the type of surgical mistake.
Damages for a Medical Malpractice Claim from a Surgical Error
If you are the victim of medical malpractice, you can get compensation for the losses you suffered, including:
- Additional medical expenses
- Additional lost wages
- Physical pain and mental anguish (pain and suffering)
- Depression and loss of enjoyment of life
What We Have to Prove to Win Your Case
We will have to prove medical malpractice with these elements:
- The surgeon had a legal duty of care toward you. Doctors must treat their patients with the same level of competence that other doctors would exercise in similar situations. When we show that you were the patient, the law will infer the duty of care.
- The doctor failed to perform up to the standard of care required by law. If the doctor made a mistake that a typical doctor in a similar situation would not have made, the doctor breached the duty of care. This breach is negligence. We will hire a medical expert to establish that your surgeon committed medical negligence.
- The negligence caused the harm you suffered. Our medical expert will testify as to this element of medical malpractice.
- You suffered measurable harm, like having to undergo additional surgery to remove the sponge accidentally left inside of you, as a result of the doctor’s negligence. We will use your medical records to prove the harm you suffered.
How to Get Legal Help for Surgical Error
At the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC, we help people who have suffered harm because of medical mistakes. If you think that you or a loved one might be the victim of medical malpractice, we can investigate to see if you might be eligible for compensation. To set up your free, no-obligation consultation, please call us today at 404-474-0804.