Surgical procedures are always risky, no matter how small or simple there are. Patients have fleeting doubts even with the best surgeons doing the procedure for them because there is always a possibility of human error. And apart from the unavoidable ones, there is also a chance of negligence and carelessness. In any case, even a small error can cause serious injury, complications, or even death. The law entitles victims and their loved ones (in case of death) to claim compensation for such negligent mistakes. Hence, it is vital to be aware of the common errors that come under the coverage of surgical malpractice.
The meaning of substandard level of care
When it comes to surgical malpractice claims, you need toprove that you (or a loved one) were given a substandard level of care during the surgery and this led to injury or damage. Simply speaking, a substandard level of care means that it was not something that another competent surgeon would have done in similar circumstances. Your lawyer will have to validate this fact by consulting experts to prove that the surgeon or the surgical staff, including nurses and anesthesiologists, did not treat you in accordance with the accepted standard of care.
The inherent risk of surgeries
When you opt for a surgical procedure, you must understand that there is always an inherent risk associated with them, no matter how major or minor they may be. While you may consider every surgical mistake to be medical malpractice, it covers only an injury caused by a doctor out of negligence. For this reason, patients are required to give explicit consent prior to surgery. At the same time, you need to be aware about the errors that account into surgical malpractice. These include:
- Performing the procedure on the wrong site
- Leaving devices tools inside the patient
- Damaging nerves
- Wrong incisions
- Errors while administering anesthesia
Timeframes of surgical malpractice
Apart from knowing the risks and negligent errors related to surgeries, you need to know about their timeframes as well. Essentially, they can happen in three timeframes:
- Prior to surgery: These includepreoperative activities such as confirming the patient identity, verifying their latest medical history, evaluating potential risks and informing the patient about those risks. Anesthesiologists are responsible for errors such as administering a wrong dose of anesthesia. Too much can be fatal while too little means that the patient may awaken prematurely.
- During surgery: A non-qualified and inexperienced surgeon can botch up the procedure and cause more harm than good to the patient. Other errors during surgery include the use of infected tools, not operating the right part, and leaving a tool inside the patient.
- After surgery: The post-surgery period is as critical as the surgery itself. The patient should be kept in a sterile environment to prevent an infection. Proper observation and monitoring are needed to ensure that there are no complications. Timely administration of medicines in correct dosages is also required to speed up healing. Failing to do any of these accounts to malpractice.
Now that you are fully aware of what all comes under surgical malpractice, you can follow your case or that of a loved one intelligently. While you should choose only a surgeon you can depend on, knowing your rights can make all the difference if you are wronged.