Have you recently been hurt because of the negligence of a doctor or other medical professionals performing surgery? Surgical procedures are performed for numerous reasons, from removing cancerous cells to joint replacements and enhancing physical appearance. However, despite the good intentions and high purpose, a surgical procedure has inherent risks. There will always be uncertainties associated with this medical procedure.
A surgical error (also called surgical malpractice or surgical negligence) is an occurrence resulting in injury or death due to negligence during surgery. It’s the most common type of medical malpractice case made against doctors and hospitals in New York City.
Surgical errors can be devastating for patients and their families, resulting in serious injury, painful recovery, and even death. Surgical errors are more common than we would like to admit, and they can occur in any surgical procedure.
While most doctors possess inarguably desirable traits, such as an outstanding work ethic and dedication to their field, unforeseen mistakes can still occur at the hands of even the most skilled practitioners. There are plenty of situations where circumstances aren’t under the control of one or more parties involved, resulting in medical errors.
In the following article, we will discuss the common New York surgical mistakes, their causes, and complications. You will also find information on how to proceed if you need the assistance of medical malpractice lawyers. So, let’s jump right in.
Common New York Surgical Errors
Every year, tens of thousands of people in New York City go under the knife, each hoping that their operation will be as perfect as possible. Often, however, it turns out differently. If you or a loved one ends up in the operating room, there’s really no telling what kind of surgical malpractice you’ll face. Even if you consider your surgeon as a competent, prudent, and skilled professional, there are still risks you would never expect.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical errors should be considered the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer. This medical negligence accounts for more than 250,000 fatalities per year. Below is a list of the common surgical errors in New York City:
Many surgical malpractice errors aren’t your doctor’s fault. It could also be due to the wrong dosage of anesthesia administered by the anesthesiologist — the medical professional in charge of managing a patient’s anesthesia before a medical procedure. If all goes well, the patient will not even realize the surgical procedure occurred. While it’s useful in relieving pain, too much or too little anesthesia can lead to serious consequences for patients.
For example, if they administer too much anesthesia, the oxygen supply in the brain will be reduced. This could result in brain damage or the patient waking up while under general anesthetic, or worse, developing psychological problems once they regain consciousness.
Before administration, the anesthesiologist must ensure that all relevant information about the patient’s medical records, allergies, and pre-existing medical conditions are communicated beforehand to allow safe anesthesia. This could prevent possible mistakes, such as giving the wrong dosage or a combination of drugs.
Failure To Remove a Foreign Object After Surgery
As unlikely as it sounds, it’s true. There have been multiple incidences of surgeons forgetting foreign objects, such as a surgical sponge, during surgeries. Despite the best intentions of all involved, it’s not uncommon for surgical tools to be left in a patient’s body after surgery is complete. If it happens, it results in the patient experiencing pain, infections, and sometimes even death.
Performing Surgery on the Wrong Body Part
Although it may sound like a mistake out of a science fiction movie, surgeries on the wrong patient or body part do happen. A report published by the Sullivan Group claimed wrong-site surgery to be the cause of a 2.7% mortality and a 41.5% permanent injury rate in patients.
The reason for this surgical malpractice is sometimes a case of miscommunication or misinformation on the part of the patient or the doctor’s office staff. When the wrong body part is operated on, the patient’s health can be severely compromised. These incidents should never occur in the first place, but when they do, they should be reported immediately to medical malpractice lawyers for prompt investigation.
Injuring a Nerve or Organ
You may have heard about nerve damage as it relates to dentistry, but did you know that your surgeon could also injure a nerve during an operation? In fact, any procedure that requires significant stretching of the skin or tissues — such as liposuction or tummy tucks — carries a risk of unintentional nerve damage.
The cause of the problem may have been an errant scalpel or a shaky hand. Either way, your quality of life might be altered forever; you might be locked in chronic pain or disability. In addition, puncturing an organ in surgery is a devastating side effect that can cost lives and leave patients scarred for the rest of their days. Thus, it’s important that the surgeon is both skilled and precise when completing an operation.
Post-surgical infections are also one of the growing threats when undergoing a surgical procedure. The majority of these infections occur when doctors fail to properly clean and sanitize a patient’s surgical wounds and maintain an appropriate level of monitoring.
Moreover, after surgery, patients commonly experience weakened immune systems, which makes them prone to infections. Hospitals are responsible for post-surgery care and must ensure that any equipment or tools used are safe.
Bad Post-Operative Medical Care
A healthcare professional cannot simply let you walk straight out the hospital door. It is crucial they follow up with your recovery after discharge to ensure that any further complications or health issues are addressed. If the doctor fails to do so, the patient could develop potentially life-threatening conditions.
Complications during and after surgery aren’t uncommon. You could experience swelling, scarring, bruising, and other complications. That’s why your assigned medical professional should closely supervise and properly monitor your wound until you make a full recovery.
Lack of Informed Consent
Informed consent is a process that occurs between a patient and medical experts before a surgical procedure is performed. The purpose of informed consent is to ensure that patients are aware of the risks and benefits of a procedure — as well as their options for treatment. If a patient doesn’t give their consent for a procedure, it cannot be done.
Causes of Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can be caused by many factors, including inadequate training, faulty equipment, and exhausted surgeons. Regardless of the reason, surgical errors can leave victims with a life-altering injury, emotional trauma, and disability.
There are many different elements that contribute to surgical errors, including:
Working long shifts combined with a lack of sleep can result in poor performance. This can lead to medical errors on the part of the surgeon and needless risk for patients. If the surgeon is too exhausted, they may not be able to fully concentrate during surgery and make mistakes. When you suspect that your botched surgery is fully surgeon’s negligence, seek help from personal injury law offices like Pagan Law Firm. We offer a free initial consultation and legal advice regarding your case.
Malpractice can happen if the surgeon is too incompetent to perform the procedure because they haven’t received adequate training or might be conducting the surgery for the first time. It’s vital that your surgeon is qualified and licensed to perform the medical procedure required. Without the proper qualifications and training, they may not have the in-depth knowledge or experience to conduct the procedure, leading to possible surgical errors.
Lack of Staff
Every surgical mistake is different, but one thing is for sure: a shortage of medical staff to attend to the patient before and after surgery is a very common cause. The resulting risks can be surgical errors or even medical mistakes that are made before or after the operation. To make sure patients receive the best medical care, the surgeon must have enough surgical assistants and staff to support the process.
When there aren’t enough members of the surgical team, that team is less likely to work efficiently and make mistakes. Insufficient staff can also lead to mistakes that entail unnecessary surgery, which can make the problem worse or require another costly procedure.
Most surgical errors occur because of poor communication between medical personnel or miscommunication between patients and their doctors. Without clear communication, patients may be at risk for serious injury or death in the operating room. Miscommunication can also lead to improper use of equipment, incorrect positioning of patients during surgery, and possible medical complications. Because the stakes are incredibly high, comprehensive patient medical records and history are also imperative for accuracy.
Under the Influence of Drugs/Alcohol
According to a study, consuming three or more glasses of wine can affect surgical performance by 7.25 percent. It leads to decreased dexterity, slower cognitive functions, and less professionalism. This behavior is completely unacceptable, given that surgeons are responsible for a very complex job. This is indicative of negligence and has led to medical malpractice lawsuits against hospitals hiring untrained individuals.
If surgeons are under the influence of drugs or alcohol during surgery, it’s possible for them to make surgical errors. This can lead to serious injuries and complications that could have been avoided.
After a surgical procedure, a patient can be prescribed a broad range of medications to help them recover after their operation. While these are a necessary part of most surgeries and treatments, these drugs carry significant risk — particularly when they are not taken correctly or the wrong medications are prescribed.
Improper Sterilization of Equipment
Surgical instruments can be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and fungi if not properly sterilized. This can lead to a variety of surgical errors, including infection, tissue damage, and even death. The CDC recommends that healthcare professionals follow proper sterilization guidelines when cleaning surgical instruments. Doing so will guarantee that these tools are safe to use in operating rooms — while also helping in disease control. This may also include double-checking the tools for defects and malfunctions.
When operating, doctors and surgical assistants must follow standard operating procedures (SOPs). However, at times, there are personal injury cases because a surgeon breached these SOPs. Wrong procedures can lead to serious injury, an extended hospital stay, and even death in some cases.
Complications of Surgical Errors
Unfortunately, the reality of things is that surgical errors do happen. Whether these mistakes are due to a surgeon’s negligence or the hospital and its medical staff, people who endure them suffer various surgical complications. Some of the most common complications include:
Infections on the Surgery Site
Infections occur when bacteria enters the body through an open wound and begins to multiply. This can happen during any kind of surgery but is most common with procedures that involve opening bones. Infections are dangerous because they can spread throughout your body quickly and lead to organ failure or death if left untreated.
Internal bleeding can be caused by an accidental laceration, improperly sutured surgical incisions, or blunt force trauma. It’s often undetected, but it can be the result of an unqualified or reckless surgeon. Though internal bleeding after the procedure may go undetected, not receiving immediate treatment significantly increases the chance of death or severe complications.
Nerve/Blood Vessels Damage
The nerve damage caused by a surgical error is called neuropathy and can be temporary or permanent. Nerve damage is a serious condition that can cause excruciating pain and affect your ability to move or feel. In severe cases, it can lead to paralysis or even death. It can be caused by using an instrument that is not sterile or not properly sterilized. It can also be caused by prolonged exposure to certain chemicals used in surgery, such as alcohol and formaldehyde.
When a patient has undergone surgery, they expect to wake up with a fully functional organ that works as intended. The reality is that sometimes, this doesn’t happen. Your surgeon may use incorrect instruments or surgical techniques that may accidentally nick an artery or internal organ. This can potentially lead to additional procedures and hospital visits to treat the damage.
A surgical error can cause scarring, which can result in a number of complications — including infection and/or nerve damage. Scarring happens when a doctor doesn’t follow the correct procedure or operates on the wrong site for surgery. As a result, a patient may experience pain, skin discoloration, or develop a scar that is larger than necessary.
Severe surgical errors can also result in the loss and disfiguration of a patient. In a worst-case scenario, a patient’s ‘botched’ surgery may result in losing a limb or even the possibility of the wrong limb being amputated. If you ever had such an incident, it’s crucial to seek legal advice from surgical error attorneys or personal injury attorneys who can help you understand your rights and options because they are experts in New York medical malpractice laws and litigation.
As reported by the National Library of Medicine, more than a fifth of patients living with chronic pain say their condition was due to a surgical error. When left untreated, chronic pain can have serious effects on your health and quality of life. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. It can also interfere with your ability to work or go about your daily life in other ways.
Improper administration or overdosage of anesthesia and accidental nerve damage can result in temporary or permanent disability such as paralysis. The level of disability depends on the severity of the injury. However, an injury victim may have the possibility of losing a specific body part where the surgery and damage occurred.
As mentioned earlier, surgical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. From nurses forgetting to administer the right medication to doctors accidentally operating on the wrong appendage, many patients lose their lives as a result of completely preventable medical mistakes. It is important to be aware that a fatal surgical error is considered a wrongful death. Hence, it should be investigated and compensated.
Is It Possible To Treat Surgical Complications?
Yes, but it depends on the suffered injuries or severity of the condition. In some cases, you may require extensive treatment and sometimes lifelong care to treat or correct the mistake. Some patients may also require another procedure to repair the damage. This means that you will need more medical expenses.
If your complication is a permanent disability, you may need to purchase the necessary equipment, such as a wheelchair. A surgical injury victim might also require modification of their home or vehicle to accommodate such medical equipment.
That being said, it’s important to work with New York surgical error lawyers or malpractice lawyers in these cases. They have the legal ability to help you obtain compensation to support your treatment process.
A skilled surgical error attorney will have a thorough understanding of medical malpractice law, and they will also conduct interviews with other medical professionals who work in the field. They will act as a third-party medical professional who can help determine surgical negligence and whether that error was the cause of the subsequent complications.
Suing for a Surgical Error
In the event of a surgical error, litigation may be necessary. In fact, many surgical errors can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, not all surgical errors or mistakes constitute medical malpractice. A surgical error is only considered medical negligence if you can prove that:
- The surgeon failed to follow the appropriate standard operating procedures.
- The mistake is the actual and proximate cause of harm sustained by the patient.
There are many instances in New York City in which a surgeon can be held liable. That’s why personal injury attorneys are the best resource to utilize when filing surgical error cases. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can result in payment of damages, financial compensation, or an admission of responsibility for the injuries sustained.
While these cases may vary, it is often in the best interest of the legal team to pursue legal recourse against your surgeon. Such lawyers are the experts in handling such matters and will work with you to ensure a favorable resolution of your case.
In addition to damages stemming directly from negligence, your medical malpractice lawyer will sue the doctor and hospital on your behalf. They will be responsible for paying your medical bills and any direct financial obligations you have incurred due to unsafe practice by the surgeon. If a surgical error has been made, you may also be entitled to recover compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, and psychological trauma. Meanwhile, a wrongful death claim may incur additional funeral costs.
Furthermore, victims are allowed to sue for punitive damages if their injuries occur because of gross negligence or intentional misconduct on the part of their surgeon and the hospital that employs them. Punitive damages are not awarded in every case but prove useful in cases like these where nothing less than full justice is being sought.
Contact a New York Surgical Errors Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
Surgical errors are a serious problem that can cause severe emotional, mental, and physical damage to patients and their families. The good news is that a patient has the right to take legal action against the surgeon by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Litigating a malpractice claim is a challenging endeavor. However, with the help of New York surgical error lawyers, you can ensure that you recover from or receive compensation for your injuries and move forward with your life.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a surgical error resulting in injury, it’s critical to understand your legal rights and options by calling the experts at the Pagan Law Firm. Our law firm has the experience and skills to represent clients and get the satisfactory settlement they deserve. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.