• Medical Malpractice: Types of Surgical Errors

    Medical Malpractice: Types of Surgical Errors

    For many people, surgery is sometimes the only path to improved health. The proper medical procedures may mean the difference between life and death for cancer patients, patients who have suffered a severe injury, or those suffering from organ failure. In other instances, surgery may be necessary to significantly improve a patient’s quality of life with improved mobility or the restoration of sensory abilities such as vision or hearing. Unfortunately, surgery can do more harm than good for a small but significant number of patients. When medical professionals fail to adequately review charts or paperwork, or when paperwork isn’t properly completed, it can result in medical malpractice. Whether the cause is incompetence or carelessness, surgical medical negligence causes unnecessary pain and hardship to patients. And in almost every instance, additional procedures and therapy will be necessary to rectify the damage.

    Wrong-Side, Wrong-Person, and Wrong Body Part Surgeries

    Some of the most severe incidents involve wrong-patient, wrong-side, or wrong-procedure surgeries. Statistics show that about forty of these errors occur every single week. In some instances, a person has a perfectly healthy body part removed while the diseased body part remains in place. In other cases, a person is admitted for a surgical procedure they don’t need simply because names get mixed up. Occasionally, a person who needs a specific treatment is given a completely different, unnecessary one. These surgeries are devastating for patients and in many cases, the damage is impossible to undo. 

    Retained Surgical Instruments (RSIs)

    Another common mistake is one involving retained foreign objects. Sponges, cotton swabs, retractors, electrodes, drains, and other tools or materials are inadvertently left inside a patient, causing discomfort, infection, and other complications. Estimates indicate that between 2000 and 4000 patients will have one or more surgical item left inside them after their procedure has been completed. 

    While these are the most common surgical errors, they are by no means the only ones. Other errors include damage to organs and nerve tissues during an operation, mistakes involving the administration of anesthesia, or even unnecessary surgery to treat a problem that could have been rectified with medication, therapy, and/or a non-invasive procedure.

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    Anesthesia Errors

    Small clinics, dental clinics, and other medical facilities that do not provide emergency care typically hire anesthetists to administer the anesthesia rather than hiring an anesthesiologist, and there are notable differences between the two. Anesthetists are board-certified nurses trained to administer anesthesia; they are meant to work under the supervision of a medical professional, and they typically lack adequate training to handle unique situations or medical emergencies. Thus, they may administer too much or too little anesthesia, use the wrong anesthesia, and/or fail to recognize that a patient is having a bad reaction to anesthesia until it is too late. Anesthesiologists, on the other hand, are doctors in their own right. They have completed an accredited residency program and can work without supervision. They also have the training needed to recognize and deal with a medical emergency related to an anesthesia error.

    At the same time, even trained and experienced anesthesiologists can make mistakes. They may fail to ensure that a patient is not allergic to a particular type of anesthesia, use equipment improperly administers too much or too little anesthesia, use the wrong kind of anesthesia, or inadvertently injure a patient when administering anesthesia.

    Anesthesia errors are a form of medical malpractice, and anyone injured due to an anesthetist’s or anesthesiologist’s actions (or inaction) can seek compensation in court.

    Paralysis and Spinal Cord Injury

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    Paralysis and spinal injury can occur if a physician operates in the wrong place, their hand slips, or they apply nerve blocks – meant to help manage pain – incorrectly. Any of these can lead to partial or total paralysis, a substantial adverse change to the quality of life.

    Incorrect Diagnosis

    When physicians operate to determine a diagnosis, they must follow all the steps to get it right. If they miss important information that could lead to a life-preserving or -prolonging treatment or cure, that’s not okay.

    Have you or a loved one suffered at the hands of a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose during surgery? Unfortunately, this is all too common. Research indicates that “In the United States, 12 million people are affected by medical diagnostic errors each year” and “An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 people die annually from complications from these misdiagnoses.”

    Blindness Caused by Medical Malpractice

    Blindness may occur due to improper surgical techniques or misapplication of anesthesia. Many patients suffer vision loss due to trauma they experience during a surgical procedure. For instance, a doctor operating on or near the eyes may make a surgical error that damages the eye or optic nerves. These types of surgical mistakes frequently cause irreversible harm.

    In other cases, a surgical team’s failure to monitor a patient for lack of blood flow can damage the optic nerves. This condition is known as ischemic optic neuropathy (ION). It can result in partial or complete blindness; in most cases, vision loss is permanent.

    Blindness can be physically, emotionally, and financially damaging for victims and their families. If a medical error caused you or your loved one to suffer blindness, we want to help.

    Compensation for Medical Malpractice

    Compensation for medical malpractice can include medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for emotional pain and suffering. A judge or jury may also award punitive damages if the medical practitioners or hospital were particularly careless, reckless, and/or had a track record for surgical errors.

    A person who has been the victim of a surgical error will want to seek legal help as soon as possible. An attorney experienced in medical malpractice claims can help an individual collect evidence and seek the help of competent medical professionals who can assess the damage and determine what (if anything) can be done to rectify the damage.

    A medical malpractice attorney can also help an injured individual determine who was at fault for the medical error because this is not clear in some instances. While the surgeon who did the operation may be primarily to blame, nurses who input the wrong information on a patient’s chart also bear some responsibility, as does a pharmacist or anesthesiologist who provides the wrong medication or dosage. Suppose the medical center is aware that its surgeon has a track record for recklessness or incompetence but has done nothing to rectify matters. In that case, a medical malpractice lawyer may suggest bringing a suit against the medical center itself.

    Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help

    Do you need a personal injury attorney in the Kansas City metro area? Don’t hesitate to reach out today for your free consultation and learn more about your options. The Nail Law Firm has a winning track record for helping victims of surgical errors obtain the compensation that is rightfully theirs. 

    Some surgical errors can cause irreparable harm to your body and life. You must get all the financial compensation for which you are eligible – often millions of dollars in lost work time, healthcare costs, and emotional damages. You deserve to feel healthy and whole, and we want to do our best to get you there. Please don’t wait any longer to learn how we can help you turn this situation around. Contact us today.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    With a contingent-fee agreement, your attorney does not charge a direct, hourly rate or require a set retainer fee. Instead, the attorney receives a percentage of the settlement or verdict as payment. This arrangement allows many injured persons to bring lawsuits that they would otherwise be unable to afford.

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    It’s a good question. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question when to file a personal injury lawsuit. To put it one way, anytime you have suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence and you are at risk of not receiving adequate compensation, it is likely you will need to sue in order to be properly compensated.
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