How to Recognize and Pursue Claims for Surgical Errors

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Surgical errors happen all the time. Unfortunately, patients don’t always realize that the health issues they’re dealing with result from a surgeon’s mistake. Awareness of common surgical errors and how to recognize them is essential for knowing when to call a surgical error lawyer to help file a claim.

What Is a Surgical Error?

A surgical error is a mistake made during surgery. Similarly, a post-surgical error is an error that is made in the time period immediately following surgery. Operations, even minor ones, often involve many hands and require multiple steps. Oftentimes, surgeries require the manipulation of external (hands, arms, legs) or internal (intestines, spleen, liver, etc.) body parts. It is, therefore, easy for a surgeon or attendant to make an error before, during, or after surgery, especially if they are not 100% focused on the task at hand.

It’s estimated that around 400,000 surgical errors occur each year, with around 100,000 of these resulting in the patient’s death. Surgical errors can take many forms. Some of the most common include:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Performing the wrong procedure
  • Leaving instruments inside the patient
  • Injuring organs or body parts inadvertently
  • Damaging nerves
  • Administering anesthesia incorrectly

The outcome of a surgical error can vary widely. While minor errors may lead to minor complications, serious surgical errors can have a life-altering impact on a patient’s physical health and may result in the need for significant additional medical expenses.

Common Causes of Surgical Errors

Surgical errors happen for many different reasons. However, the commonality among all surgical errors is that they are preventable mistakes that could have been avoided. Some of the leading contributing factors to why surgical errors occur include:

  • Lack of experience
  • Fatigue and lack of focus
  • Poor communication
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Lack of planning
  • Understaffing

When a surgeon or other healthcare professional makes an unreasonable mistake that affects a patient’s health, this is considered medical malpractice. A patient injured by a surgical error then has grounds to recover compensation for medical malpractice — but only if they recognize and can ultimately prove that a surgical error has taken place.

How to Recognize a Surgical Error

Some surgical errors are immediately evident, like when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part. Other kinds of errors may take months or even years to identify, like when instruments or gauze are left inside the incision.

Often, recognizing a surgical error depends on the type of surgery and the area of the body that was operated on. However, certain physical symptoms are often present with a surgical error. Some of these can include:

  • Fever
  • Infection
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge at the incision site
  • Unreasonable or disproportionate post-surgical pain

If you notice these or other signs shortly after surgery, that could indicate that you’re experiencing health complications related to a surgical error.

As you recuperate from surgery, it’s normal to experience symptoms like redness, swelling, and pain as the body heals. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen with time instead of improving, it’s another sign that something may have gone wrong during the operation.

Long-Term Effects of Surgical Errors

A surgical error can significantly impact the injured patient’s health and their finances. In a best-case scenario, surgical errors can result in an eventual full recovery. However, the road to recovery can often be both costly and painful.

Treatment for a surgical error typically involves additional surgeries, potential hospitalization, and physical therapy. In the meantime, the patient cannot work in certain circumstances, resulting in lost wages and benefits as medical costs grow.

Serious surgical errors can have lasting consequences. In some cases, a patient may be left fully or partially disabled and permanently unable to return to work. They might also develop additional medical conditions due to mistakes on the operating table.

How a Surgical Error Lawyer Can Help With Compensation

When you’re the victim of a surgical error, a surgical error lawyer can help you recover compensation. That compensation could be in the form of pain and suffering damages, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and/or the cost of future medical care. Filing a medical malpractice claim is a complicated process. It can be extremely difficult to prove that malpractice occurred without an experienced lawyer on your side.

Before a lawyer can file a claim, they need to build a case proving that the surgeon was negligent. They also need to show proof of how the error has negatively impacted your life and finances. In a medical malpractice case, it’s also necessary to obtain the testimony of an expert medical witness.

Once a lawyer is done investigating your case, they can then file a claim and hopefully negotiate a settlement with the surgeon’s insurance provider to compensate you for your injury. In some cases, where a settlement is not possible or forthcoming from the surgeon or other provider, your lawyer may have to go all the way to trial to get you compensation.

Consult a Surgical Error Lawyer Today

The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. is known for achieving impressive results in the area of medical malpractice compensation. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced surgical error lawyer.

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