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Surgical Injuries

Unfortunately, surgical errors are way too common and may be directly responsible for causing a patient death or other serious complications. An injury due to a surgical error is a serious matter and requires the attention of experienced surgical injury lawyers.

Here are some examples of surgical errors caused by medical malpractice:

  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure,
  • Performing the surgical procedure incorrectly
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Leaving surgical instruments and sponges inside the patient

According to an article in the New York Times, there is an estimated 4,000 cases of surgical patients have had instrument left inside their body in the United States – this is just one example of a surgical error.

Another major kind of surgical error involves a surgeon neglecting to collect the informed consent of the patient before conducting an operation. A doctor or surgeon must advise the patient of all associated risks and viable alternatives leading to the procedure. Surgical errors can commonly occur during routine procedures, including colonoscopies, appendix surgery, gall bladder surgery and plastic surgery. It may also happen post-surgery while the patient is recovering as a result of malpractice on the part of nurses or doctors.

Medical and surgical errors are the responsibility of the facility and individuals who administered medical care, regardless of the nature of the procedure. The Snyder Litigation Team accepts a limited number of cases each year in order to pay the highest degree of attention to our clients. Although most cases of surgical error are settled out of court, surgical injury lawyers at Snyder & Snyder will fight to get you the compensation you deserve, and prepare each case as if it were going to trial. If you or your loved one believes that you may have suffered a surgical error due to malpractice or medical negligence, call the experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at Snyder & Snyder immediately for a free legal consultation.

Surgical Injuries FAQ

What Are Surgical Injuries?
A surgical injury is caused by a surgeon’s negligence during a surgical procedure. These injuries can cause a patient to suffer significant health complications. In some cases, a surgical injury may be fatal. While every surgery poses some degree of risk, the surgeon is held to a certain standard of care that minimizes the risk of injury during the surgical procedure.

Are Surgical Injuries Common?
In 2003, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JDAHO) received five to eight reports of surgical errors each month. According to JDAHO, the vast majority of surgical errors involve wrong-site surgery.

A study published in the journal Surgery in December 2012 indicated that there were 9,744 paid malpractice claims for serious surgical errors between September 1990 and September 2010. These errors involved some of the worst surgical mistakes, such as operating on the wrong body part, operating on the wrong person or leaving surgical equipment inside the patient’s body. Because this study only considered medical malpractice claims that were paid, the sample does not include the vast majority of surgical errors.

In Maryland, there were more than 2,630 malpractice settlements reported between 2001 and 2011.

What are Some Examples of Surgical Injuries?
Surgical injuries can occur from a number of situations, including:
• Failure to remove surgical object from the patient’s body
• Wrong-site surgery
• Anesthesia errors
• Operating on the wrong person
• Surgical site infections
• Organ damage
• Failure to provide adequate post-operative care
• Failure to adequately monitor the patient through all stages of surgery

These types of injuries can be caused by a surgeon’s inattention, inexperience, impairment, poor technique or communication error.

What is a “Never” Event?
A “never” event is an inexcusable action by a health care professional. Injuries caused by a “never” event are extremely preventable. Researchers at Johns Hopkins estimate that more than 4,000 “never” events occur in the U.S. each year. They found that many of the “never” events were caused by surgeons who had previously been accused of medical malpractice. While not all surgical errors must be reported, hospitals are required to report “never” events that result in a settlement or judgment to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

Researchers estimate that a U.S. surgeon will leave a foreign object inside a patient’s body after a surgical procedure an average of 39 times per week, operates on the wrong patient 20 times per week and performs surgery on the wrong body part 20 times per week. Because there is no justifiable excuse for these mistakes, these situations are referred to as “never” events.

How Do I Know if My Injury Was Caused by Surgical Error?
A surgeon is required to follow a standard of care that is customary for their particular area of practice. When they deviate from that standard of care, they put their patients at risk. When investigating allegations of surgical errors, a medical malpractice lawyer will consult with an expert who is familiar with the surgical standard of care and determine whether the surgeon’s negligence caused the surgical injury.

What about Robotic Surgery?
Robotic surgery has been growing in popularity. Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of robotic surgery has also led to an increase in surgical injuries associated with the practice. In robotic surgery, a doctor will sit at a console several feet away from the patient. From this console, the doctor will use foot pedals and hand controls to control mechanical arms equipped with surgical tools. The doctor uses a three dimensional camera to guide the procedure. A Bloomberg News report indicated that robotic surgery has been associated with more than 70 deaths since 2009. If you have been injured during robotic surgery, contact a medical malpractice attorney to learn about your legal options.

What Type of Compensation Can I Receive for My Surgical Injury?
If you are a victim of a surgical injury, you could be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses associated with the surgical mistake, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses. If a loved one has died from a surgical injury, you could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for their medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other damages. A Maryland medical malpractice lawyer will help you determine whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Do I Need an Attorney?
Hospitals and insurance companies are generally equipped with talented legal teams that protect their assets. If a surgeon is negligent, the hospital or insurance company may offer to settle the case. It is important to realize that these companies may offer far less than you actually deserve. While the settlement may initially seem generous, you may quickly learn that the amount is insufficient to cover your losses. A medical malpractice lawyer knows exactly how to investigate surgical injury cases and will help you maximize your chance of legal victory.