Surgical Error Accidents

With the excellent standard of medical care available in the Federal Way area, we all expect that the surgery that we or a loved one undergoes will be successful and free of error.

After all, with medical costs in the U.S. amongst the highest in the world, it is reasonable to expect the best possible care in return.

Thankfully, this is indeed the case most of the time.

Unfortunately, preventable harm related to surgical procedures does happen. This can leave patients in a worse position medically than when they entered the hospital. In the worst cases, it can lead to permanent disability or even death.

If you are the victim of a surgical error injury in the Federal Way area, it may be possible to hold the hospital liable and to claim compensation for losses suffered. 

The medical malpractice lawyers at Park Chenaur & Associates are waiting to hear your story.

LEARN MORE >> Learn more about medical malpractice injuries

What are the most common surgical errors? 

Our surgical error injury lawyers regularly speak to patients who have suffered preventable harm during surgery. 

Some of the most common errors include:

  • Objects left in the body – it is surprisingly common for a member of the surgical team to leave a medical device such as a scalpel or sponge inside the body of the patient, leading to a variety of possible side effects.
  • Infections – for places that appear to be sterile, the infection rate in hospitals is alarmingly high and you are at the greatest risk during and after an operation. 
  • Nerve damage – while patients may experience some temporary nerve damage from any operation, puncturing, tearing, or cutting nerves can lead to permanent nerve damage and loss of sensation/motor function that can often be avoided with more care. 
  • Punctured organs – a wayward cut from a surgeon can sometimes lead to fatal or near-fatal consequences if an organ is punctured during surgery. This can lead to sepsis if corrective measures are not taken immediately.
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body –  for instance, operating on a left kidney instead of the right one. This type of error is more common than most of us imagine.
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure – another serious mistake that can happen due to systemic error, poor communication, surgeon error, etc.
  • Errors with anesthesia: the anesthesiologist is a key member of any surgical team and it is incumbent upon them to get dosages correct. Errors can have fatal consequences.

When does sub-standard surgery become medical malpractice? 

It is difficult for many patients to identify when an apparent surgical error can be classed as “medical malpractice” and when it is simply one of the many things that can go wrong with a surgical procedure.

Your surgeon should remind you before the procedure that there is no guarantee of “success”. It is important to ask questions to understand what a “successful” operation will achieve and to set your expectations accordingly.

Remember that there are known risks associated with any surgical procedure and side effects and complications are common. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer complications, this does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice.

However, it is reasonable to expect a certain standard of care: specifically, that the right surgical procedure is performed on the right part of the body by a competent and suitably qualified surgical team – and that every effort is taken to avoid infections, nerve damage, and other possible adverse results from surgery.

Failure to meet the expected and required standard of care during your surgical procedure could be seen as medical negligence if it results in preventable harm. This could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

What is preoperative negligence?

We normally think of surgical malpractice occurring in the operating theatre during surgical procedures.

However, it can also happen before your surgery. 

Patients need to consent to their surgery based on the information and advice provided by medical professionals. There is an expectation that the information will be accurate, protocols will be followed, and the advice will be in their best interests.

A series of preoperative tests should be conducted to ensure that a patient is fit for surgery (without underlying health issues that might cause complications) and that there is a reasonable chance of the procedure being successful.

These tests may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Allergy investigation e.g. anesthesia
  • X-rays
  • An MRI or CT scan
  • EKG
  • Urinalysis

If such tests are not performed and it directly leads to preventable harm during surgery, it may constitute preoperative negligence.

What are the most common causes of surgical malpractice?

Things go wrong in operating theatres for many reasons – not all of them due to malpractice.

However, when the following reasons are identified as a direct cause of injury, sickness or death from a procedure, you may have reasonable grounds for a medical malpractice claim:

  • Poor planning – a professional surgical team should ensure that all the necessary arrangements are made for the surgery beforehand and be ready to deal with any complications that arise.
  • Failure to follow protocol – medical establishments should have strict protocols in place for any major medical procedure. If these are not followed, mistakes can and do happen.
  • Incompetence – a certain level of surgical experience and expertise among the surgical team is a reasonable expectation for any patient. If this is not the case, surgical malpractice may be the result.
  • Poor communication – successful surgery depends on team communication. If this breaks down at any point before, during or after the surgery, it increases the chance of a serious mistake that may harm the patient. 
  • Overworked surgical staff – if surgeons or members of their team are overworked and fatigued, errors are more likely.

What compensation can you claim for surgical errors in Federal Way?

Surgical errors can lead to a wide variety of losses for patients – causing financial, mental and emotional difficulties both in the present and the future.

Fair compensation for these losses may include payments covering:

  • Existing and future medical bills 
  • Lost earnings 
  • Pain and suffering caused 
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement or disability
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Loss of quality of life

Claiming the maximum compensation without the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can be a tough challenge as most medical facilities have experienced legal teams, who attempt to minimize losses.

Do you need help with a surgical malpractice claim?

If you are suffering from an injury or illness following surgery in Federal Way, speak to one of the medical malpractice attorneys at Park Chenaur.

During your free and confidential consultation, we will discuss the details of your case and advise you of your legal options.

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