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Who Is Liable for Surgical Errors?

The Risks of Surgical Errors & Medical Malpractice

Every year, thousands of individuals suffer from medical malpractice, surgical errors, and hospital negligence. These cases can involve a wide range of mistakes and oversights, from medication errors to incorrect diagnoses to botched surgeries. When doctors or hospitals make these mistakes, the consequences can be devastating—and even life-threatening. In this blog post, we’ll explore what surgical errors are as well as how you can establish liability for these incidents.

Common Types of Surgical Errors

A surgical error occurs when a surgeon or medical professional makes a preventable error during a patient’s surgery or treatment. Surgery carries inherent risks due to the fact that it involves cutting into the body and manipulating vital organs. If a surgeon makes an error during surgery—such as leaving behind foreign objects like gauze or tools inside the body—it could lead to infection or other complications for patients down the line.

When it comes to surgical errors and medical malpractice claims, there are many different types that you may encounter. Surgical error lawsuits typically involve:

  • Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia is used during many medical procedures to keep patients numb and pain-free. However, if anesthesia is not administered correctly or monitored closely enough during a procedure, it can lead to serious health complications—including death.
  • Improper training or education (of the surgeon). Sometimes surgical errors are the result of human errors. If a doctor does not have the proper training or education to properly perform a surgery but continues with the surgery, then they can be liable for your damages. While many people worry that medical interns or residents are parties that are ill-equipped to handle complex surgeries, errors caused by lack of experience can also involve hospital staff.
  • Infection. During post-operative treatment, patients should be monitored for infection. If a doctor uses improperly cleaned or unsanitized instruments, then a patient is at risk for infection.
  • Rush to complete cases. If doctors rush through a surgery (for personal reasons or because of an overbooked OR, they risk causing the patient internal injury or leaving instruments in the patient’s body.
  • Unnecessary surgery. Claims can arise if a person has an unneeded surgery performed on them that causes them further injury or unnecessary pain.
  • Wrong patient surgery. In some cases, a person can have the wrong surgery performed on them.
  • Wrong site surgery. Medical staff may remove the wrong limb or organ; in other cases, they may operate on the wrong site (i.e. the right hand instead or the left hand).

Who Is Liable for Surgical Errors: the Surgeon or Hospital?

Knowing who is liable can help you understand what actions you should take and against whom after suffering damages because of surgical errors. In these cases, either the doctor(s) involved in your surgery or the hospital where the procedure was performed is likely the liable party.

Doctors owe their patients a duty of care and should ensure they offer them quality care during the surgery and post-operative care stages. If they fail to complete their duties or act negligently, they can be held liable for your damages.

However, in some situations, the hospital may be held liable for your injuries. For instance, if the hospital knew a doctor had a history of negligent behavior or errors and failed to prohibit their operating abilities, then they have some liability. They can also be liable in instances where they failed to provide doctors with proper equipment or overworked their staff.

Establishing Liability for Surgical Errors

While having surgery not go as planned can be upsetting, not all surgical errors are considered medical malpractice incidents, and you can only pursue compensation if you are able to prove that:

  • The liable party (the surgeon or hospital) established a relationship with you and owed you a duty of care.
  • The liable party acted negligently or in a way that someone of the same caliber or in the same position would not have.
  • The liable party’s actions directly caused your injuries.
  • You suffered monetary damages because of their negligence (i.e. medical bills, further treatment, etc. for follow-up and corrective action).

To establish liability and that negligence occurred, you should take the following steps to strengthen/build your case:

  • Document everything.
  • Avoid posting online.
  • Obtain copies of your medical records.
  • Be mindful of what documents you sign.
  • Contact an attorney sooner rather than later.

Trusted Medical Malpractice Attorneys

If you believe you’ve been wrongfully injured due to medical malpractice, including surgical errors, it’s important that you seek legal counsel immediately in order to protect your rights as an injured party. At The Dickinson Law Firm, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys will help you every step of the way as you work towards building your case against negligent parties. With over four decades of collective legal experience, we can help you minimize your liability, maximize your compensation, and achieve the best possible case results.

Contact us today via phone (770) 924-8155 or using our online contact form for more information about how we can help!