Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million surgical procedures are performed in U.S. hospitals and outpatient surgical centers each year. Fortunately, the vast majority of those procedures are completed without a hitch. The numbers don’t help, however, if you are one of the unfortunate few who suffer injury due to a surgical error or other medical malpractice.
What Is Behind the Usual Incidence of Surgical Error?
Experts note that, just as each individual has unique qualities and characteristics, surgical procedures performed on those individuals can be just as unique. Nevertheless, medical officials have concluded that many malpractice incidents are associated with a number of common shortfalls:
- Inadequate pre-operative planning – Just as an airline pilot would never think about flying across the country without a flight plan, a surgical plan is imperative for a successful outcome. Sometimes, however, a surgeon can be lulled into complacency because he or she has performed the procedure many, many times.
- Inadequate experience – While some surgeons may take a procedure lightly because they have performed it many times, other surgeons may have difficulty completing the procedure because they lack experience. This can be a problem where surgery is performed in outlying areas, far removed from medical centers where continuous training goes on.
- Inadequate communication – Surgery usually requires teamwork. Where the team leader, the surgeon, fails to communicate clearly with others on the operating team, disaster can strike.
- Inadequate attention to the surgeon’s own needs – Because of ever-rising pressures to be efficient, surgeries are scheduled back to back, in many instances. Surgeons work long hours. They tend to be sleep-deprived. Some surgical residents have been in and around the operating room for as many as 14 hours, with only a few breaks. Fatigue is dangerous for the surgeon, and even more dangerous for the patient.
Types of Surgical Errors
When any of the shortfalls or errors just mentioned occur, mistakes are likely to follow. Some common surgical errors or mistakes include:
- Improper monitoring of the patent during surgery
- Improper placement of surgical incisions
- Improper monitoring of surgical products/tools – for example, forgetting to remove surgical sponges, dressings, and/or instruments from the patient’s body
- Improper use of sutures
It Takes Time to Heal; Time Can Also Be Your Enemy
It takes time for patients who have suffered from surgical malpractice to heal. Unfortunately, time can also be your enemy. Where malpractice has occurred, evidence may need to be preserved. Nurses and staff members may need to be interviewed, while their memories are fresh. One must also bear in mind that there are time limits to bring medical malpractice claims.
Experienced Legal Counsel is a Must
Patients should be aware that medical malpractice isn’t easy to prove. If they are allowed to do so, the surgical staff will generally pull together. You will likely need your own team headed by a skilled, experienced, aggressive medical malpractice attorney, with all of the resources required to handle your claim.
Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy has the experience, knowledge, and attitude required to assist you in reaching the best possible outcome. We also have the skills and tenacity required to take your case to trial, if necessary.
We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. We have been representing clients for more than a hundred years; our law practice has stood the test of time. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 274-5820 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.