It is estimated that a significant number of surgical errors are reported every year, resulting in medical malpractice lawsuits. All surgical errors are not considered medical malpractice. If a surgeon performing a surgical procedure fails to adhere to the appropriate standard of care, the error constitutes medical malpractice. A medical record review company can comprehensively analyze the injury sustained by the plaintiff. This assists the attorney in successfully litigating medical malpractice by proving that the surgery was the actual and proximate cause of the harm.
Surgical Errors and Standard of Care
All surgical procedures are risky. However, a surgical error can be defined as a preventable mistake that can occur during or after the procedure. Patients have to sign an informed consent as there is an element of risk involved in all surgeries. The risks of the erroneous surgical procedure go beyond the known risks specified in the consent form. In such unexpected events, patients can file for medical malpractice claims if the surgeon and his or her team didn’t follow the appropriate standard of care.
According to medicinenet.com, in legal terms standard of care is defined as the level at which the average, prudent provider in a given community would practice. It is how similarly qualified practitioners would have managed the patient’s care under the same or similar circumstances. A medical malpractice attorney has to demonstrate that there was a breach of the standard of care. If the standard of care is met, the plaintiff has no legal ground to file for medical malpractice even when the procedure has gone awry.
Most Common Surgical Mistakes
The surgical procedure performed on the wrong site
Wrong-site surgery occurs when the patient’s surgery is performed on the wrong part of the body or organ. This can injure the patient as there are instances where the patient has the wrong limb amputated.
This is also referred to as wrong patient surgery. The patient is directed to undergo unnecessary surgery which leads to serious complications. This harms the patient and can have severe consequences that last longer. It can also be the cause of death.
Proper care must be taken while using surgical instruments during surgery. It is mandatory to use disinfected equipment while performing surgery. Any use of unsanitary surgical instruments leads to infection due to cross-contamination of diseases. The health condition of the patient worsens if he /she has a compromised immune system. The patient will be infected and, in some cases, it can be fatal.
The surgical instrument remains inside the body
It is the standard operating procedure to count the number of all the surgical instruments, sponges, gauze, etc before and after the surgery. If the surgical instrument is left inside the body after the incisions are sutured, serious complications and infections can arise.
Injury to internal organs
While performing a surgical procedure, surgeons might accidentally perforate or puncture a neighboring organ with a scalpel, scissors, or laser. The tissue lining the organ is delicate and any injury can lead to severe and lasting health issues.
Damage to nerves
A surgeon’s physical error or anomalous administration of anesthesia can injure the nerves of the patient.
What are the underlying causes of surgical errors?
- Lack of skill
- Absence of adequate preoperative planning
- Improper surgical procedure
- Failure to communicate properly
- Surgeon’s fatigue
- Drug or alcohol
Legal claims in the context of surgical errors
- A surgical injury can be avoided if there was due care and diligence. The primary goal in medical malpractice claims is to establish that the standard of care was met.
- The case should be thoroughly analyzed to know what a reasonably skilled surgeon would have done under similar circumstances.
- Arguments have to be framed by highlighting the fact that the surgeon who allegedly performed the procedure erroneously has failed to meet the standard of care.
- A comprehensive medical record review is important to prove that the negligence caused actual harm to the plaintiff.
- Corrective follow-up procedures require the plaintiff to take time off work which is the reason for the loss of wages. The estimated loss has to be computed and filed in the affidavit.
The claimant’s medical chart is essential to substantiate the arguments. The medical records have to be collected and subjected to a medical review process. As a medical records review company, we can assist medical malpractice attorneys in retrieving the medical evidence relevant to the case in a cost-effective manner.