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Many people fear surgery due to potential risks, the thought of going under, the aftermath, or some other reason. And while the majority of surgeries are conducted without issue, some can end with frightening consequences when a surgeon makes an error in the process. Surgical errors can be terrifying, painful, and life-altering for the patient that must endure it.

They also occur more often than one may think. According to a study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, one half to two-thirds of adverse events reported by hospitals are attributed to surgical care, and over half of that portion appears to have been preventable. You should be able to expect a smooth surgery with a normal amount of recovery time for your procedure. When surgeons are negligent and make surgical errors, we will be there to help you and protect your rights.

At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or died due to a surgical error, contact our office today for a free consultation with a reputable personal injury lawyer.

Types of Surgical Errors

There are thousands of surgical procedures done in the United States every day, but surgical errors are actually somewhat common. According to findings from the journal Surgery, they estimated that a surgeon leaves foreign objects inside their patients at least 39 times a week nationwide. Also, they found that over 80,000 “events that should never occur in surgery” occurred between 1990 and 2010. This is a shocking number, but we are here to ensure that you get justice for what you endure and get as fair of an outcome as possible after such a traumatizing event.

When surgeons fail to properly conduct their procedure, the consequences can be fatal. Injuries from surgical errors include infections, loss of function, scarring, disfigurement, internal organ damage, nerve damage, and wrongful death. A few types of surgical errors that can cause these injuries and prompt legal action include the following:

  • Leaving foreign objects in the body – This is one of the most common surgical errors. They fail to see or forget to remove scalpels, towels, sponges, and more from the body.
  • Operating on the incorrect body part – Believe it or not, surgeons have operated on the incorrect organ or limb, causing excessive damage and costs to the patient. 
  • Conducting the incorrect procedure – Surgeons must know the procedure that is appropriate for the condition that they are treating to avoid causing complications.
  • Utilizing the incorrect instruments – By using the incorrect surgical instruments and tools, the surgeon risks extra damage or incorrectly performing certain steps of surgery.
  • Infection – Patients can get an infection during the surgery due to inadequate or improper use of antiseptic.
  • Improper medical clearance for surgery – The surgeon should not provide clearance for surgery and anesthesia based on results from various exams, labs, and tests indicating that it is unnecessary.
  • Failure to properly supervise a patient’s recovery – Surgeons must care for their patients after the surgery to ensure that they fully and properly recover.
  • Anesthesia errors – Administering too much or too little anesthesia can cause a plethora of medical injuries and conditions.
  • Injuring an organ in operation – Surgeons may make the careless mistake of lacerating or otherwise damaging an organ in the middle of surgery, thus causing excessive bleeding or other long-term injuries and conditions.

Pursuing Legal Action After a Surgical Error

In Illinois, the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice claim is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of the negligent action or inaction to file a lawsuit, otherwise you will not be permitted to bring forth a case. This can get confusing, though, as it applies in these cases to two years after the date that you knew or should have known about the surgical error. So, if you notice the issue months after it occurred in the surgery, it will be important to establish the date that you should have known about the error versus an error that you immediately notice after the surgery such as disfigurement. Also, it is important to always remember the two-year range that you are given if you attempt to settle the matter outside of court. The opposing side may try to delay negotiations so that if you do decide to take it to court, it is too late.

There are a few potential defendants in surgical error cases, depending on the type of accident that occurred. If the error occurred during surgery, it is likely that the surgeon would be deemed the liable party. If it was an anesthesia error, the anesthesiologist would be found liable. If the error was in failing to properly supervise the patient’s recovery, then the medical staff assigned to take care of you could be found liable. If there was an error in the exam or test that warranted medical clearance for surgery, the radiologist or other doctors in charge of interpreting the results to deem you ready for surgery could possibly be found liable for your injuries.

Proving Liability

These medical malpractice matters are rooted in negligence. To prove the liable party’s negligence, you will have to establish its elements. First, you must establish the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, which is fairly straightforward. Then, you must prove that they had a responsibility of a professional standard of care, which is higher than the average standard of care that people owe to one another and even higher for medical specialists. You must prove that the liable party breached this professional standard of care and how they did so. You can accomplish this through thorough medical records, expert witness testimony, and more that we will help obtain for you. You must prove that the causal connection between their actions or inactions were the sole, direct cause of your injuries and harm. And lastly, you must prove that you did suffer actual damages from this breach of care.

While it may appear daunting to begin to collect all of the evidence to prove their liability, we will be there every step of the way to ensure that your rights are respected and you have help to navigate this traumatizing event and the process. Health care providers will likely fight back aggressively to defend their name, but we will fight harder for you so that you can get the compensation and outcome that you deserve.

Damages That Can Be Recovered

Surgical errors can be life-altering and life-threatening events in a person’s life, yet they are disturbingly common. The National Practitioner Data Bank found that over 4,000 preventable surgical errors occur in the United States each year. As attorneys helping the victim in these situations, we want to fight back against this phenomenon and help you recover from such a devastating event. We will use our expert resources and investigation to get to the bottom of the case and make sure that these medical professionals do not get away with it or continue to operate with negligence. Some damages that you can recover after a successful surgical error lawsuit include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss of earnings
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of reputation
  • Funeral or burial costs (in a wrongful death claim)
  • Wrongful death (in a wrongful death claim)

If you have been injured or a loved one has been injured or died due to a surgical error, contact our office today for a free consultation.

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Submitted Comments

4 years ago
I had a lumbar puncture in 2019 at ALM VA Hospital. I was punctured in 6 different sites. 3 days later I visit the ER and ALM VA Hospital. I was leaking spinal fluid in 6 sites. I couldn't stand, turn my head, I could not move and I nearly died. I have not received any help from the VA. I need an Attorney
4 years ago
Not sure if this falls in the correct category and I know it's been quite sometime since it's happened to me. It was in 2012 when I had gallbladder surgery after the ER dismissed me multiple times over and over again thinking I only wanted pain meds when I was actually in severe pain and I had no idea why. Finally I was rushed to the ER because the pain was so bad and antagonizing that my blood pressure shot through the roof and I wasn't able to even breathe or speak a single word. I finally had figured out it was my gallbladder (thank gosh for a different doctor finally at the ER that night this time.) Instead of a same day outpatient surgery I was ending up having to be there to recover for about 4-5 days. Then not even 2-3 days after I was released, my pain was back and it was even more severe than before. The doctor who was in the ER this time did an ultrasound instantly right away and came back and was absolutely just shocked and had said that in his 25 years of practicing medicine had he ever seen a surgeon do this. But the surgeon who did my surgery literally forgot a massive sized Gallstone and FORGOT 20% of my gallbladder. I was cut open in 4 spots with the first surgery, then so now since there wasn't a surgeon available I had to wait and be admitted to the hospital for an entire week before someone even became available to come take the rest out of me and that massive gallstone! This surgery is one of the easiest alive. It's like one snip and the entire gallbladder comes unattached. So now the second time around I had to be cut open again in the same 4 spots when I wasn't even a quarter way healed from the first surgery. Then again after this surgery I was again hospitalized for 4 more additional days. See I haven't been able to say anything as I've got social phobia, severe anxiety, agoraphobia, and multiple other mental issues like that and also as well I was in a severe abusive relationship for three years during and after them surgeries to the point I wasn't actually ALLOWED to at all what so ever or me and my children could have and would have been killed. I don't care even if it's 5,000 but I want some kind of compensation. Cuz not to mention, I was uninsured at the time & homeless and had to recover in a disgusting, unsanitary, homeless shelter sitting in a plastic chair. Now another reason for all this is because is I've got a PALb2 Gene which is hereditary from my mother and now I won't go and get my MRI testing and Mammograms every 6 months all because of this happening all these years ago because I'm scared. Absolutely scared to death because of what that surgeon carelessly did. And they acted like it was no biggie like it was just a normal thing