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.
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.