Tampa Surgical Error Attorneys
Surgical mistakes are the second-leading cause of medical malpractice in the U.S. (misdiagnosis is the first). Doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists all have critical jobs to perform during surgery, and negligent mistakes can be costly or deadly.
Surgery always involves some risk, and it can be difficult to know when something goes wrong whether negligence was involved. The Tampa surgical error attorneys at Greco & Wozniak, P.A. have the training and experience to investigate a hospital injury, retain the necessary medical experts, and determine whether a bad outcome in the operating room was the result of somebody’s negligence or incompetence. Our lawyers are experienced in surgery malpractice cases and are ready to discuss your case and pursue compensation if malpractice was involved.
Complications of surgery versus avoidable complications caused by malpractice
Only a small handful of people know what went on in the OR, and it’s unlikely any of them will admit to the patient or patient’s family that they made a costly mistake. Instead, you are likely to hear that there were complications that caused an additional injury or other bad result. Surgery is always risky to some degree. The operation might not be successful even if the doctors and nurses did everything right. There may be complications, and even just going under general anesthesia and recovering from an operation involves risks as well.
It’s the job of doctors to get a patient’s informed consent before operating, letting them know the possible risks and the benefits of surgery, other alternatives, and the cost of doing nothing. Before deciding to operate, surgeons should consider the individual’s personal risk factors and facts about their medical history that might argue against surgery. Finally, they must perform the surgery according to the prevailing professional standard of care. Patients consent to surgery once they know the risks, but they never consent to be harmed by preventable mistakes.
Examples of surgical mistakes
Below are some common surgical errors that often result in medical malpractice lawsuits:
Mistakes by the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist include improper intubation, failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs, failing to administer adequate oxygen, giving too much or too little anesthetic, or causing an allergic reaction. These errors can cause damaged teeth, nerve damage, organ damage, cardiopulmonary arrest, and even death.
Surgeons operate for a living, and just because a surgeon is willing to operate on you doesn’t mean the surgery is necessary. It is estimated that between ten and twenty percent of most common surgeries aren’t necessary, and the incidence of unnecessary surgery is much higher for certain kinds of procedures. Some doctors lack the training and experience to know when to operate and when to advise less invasive procedures instead. Others might be under pressure from their practice group to perform as many operations as they can. A small number of surgeons also perform unnecessary procedures for the sole purpose of billing Medicare or private insurers. That’s insurance fraud, and it’s also malpractice.
Not every surgery is a medical emergency, but once the need for surgery is identified, it shouldn’t be put off for non-medical reasons like scheduling around the doctor’s personal life or because the hospital overbooks the OR. Delayed surgery malpractice can also refer to needed surgeries that are not identified by the physician in a timely manner or surgeries that are started and then prolonged beyond what is safe for the patient.
As strange as it may seem, these kinds of errors happen every day. Doctors operate on the wrong patient, or they perform the wrong surgery, or they operate on the wrong side of the body. Many staff members at the hospital can be responsible for making sure these errors don’t happen, and when one of them makes a mistake, the error can slip by everybody else’s attention. Knowing that these errors happen, hospitals should have policies and precautions in place to make sure they don’t.
Retained foreign object
Sponges, clamps, hemostats and other tools have turned up sewn inside a patient after surgery. Often they go unnoticed until the patient complains of severe abdominal pain, and an x-ray reveals the object. Now doctors have to go back in to remove the object before it causes further damage. One surgery is risky enough, but having to have an operation while still recovering from an earlier surgery is much more complicated. Hospitals could avoid these mistakes by training OR staff on simple procedures like counting instruments before and after surgery and making sure everything is accounted for before closing the incision.
Organ punctures and perforations can occur during invasive diagnostic procedures using an endoscope to explore the patient’s esophagus or colon. A doctor performing surgery could also unintentionally nick an organ or blood vessel. Results can include internal bleeding, peritonitis, toxic fluid leaking into the body, organ failure, and death if the mistake is not found and corrected right away.
Lack of pre-operative planning by the hospital or surgery team can leave the surgeon making an incision without the proper incision point being marked, or with the wrong place marked. Surgeons who go into an operation without enough sleep or under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also make a slip or make the wrong incision. Sometimes the surgeon simply makes a mistake based on a lack of sufficient training or experience. The wrong incision can end up causing additional scarring or delaying or prolonging a surgery beyond what is safe.
Unsanitary surgical instruments
Surgical tools that haven’t been thoroughly sanitized before use can cause life-threatening infections from deadly superbugs that lurk on these instruments and don’t respond to antibiotics. The most common infections come from ventilators, bladder catheters, IV tubes and central line venous catheters, epidural steroid injections, and endoscopes.
Mistakes can occur after surgery as well. Failure to properly monitor the patient and care for the wound can result in postoperative infections, bedsores, pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. These issues can become serious or even fatal if allowed to progress. They shouldn’t happen in the first place if the hospital staff is properly caring for the patient.
Review Your Surgical Injury With a Skilled and Experienced Tampa Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Doctors and hospitals rarely admit they made a mistake in the operating room and offer to compensate you for the harm you suffered. Instead, it takes a dedicated lawyer and a qualified medical expert to find out what happened and hold doctors and hospitals accountable for the harm caused by an avoidable surgical error.
If you or a loved one may have been harmed by a surgical error in a Tampa hospital or surgery center, call Greco & Wozniak, P.A. to discuss your case with a seasoned and dedicated Tampa medical malpractice attorney.