Medical Malpractice: A focus on surgical errors

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Practice Areas: Medical Malpractice, Nursing Home or Elder Abuse

Hospitalizations are a difficult time for patients who must entrust their lives to strangers. Patients feel especially vulnerable when faced with surgeries and invasive procedures, as many things can go wrong and end in devastating consequences. During most surgeries the patient is usually under anesthesia and relying completely on the various medical professionals in the room including anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists and surgeons who have been specially trained for that type of procedure. These providers carry a great deal of responsibility and any mistakes or deviations from the standard of care can cause the patient to suffer serious injuries, a worsening of their condition and even death. When a medical professional's mistakes during surgery cause harm to a patient, he or she may be able to hold wrongdoers accountable through our legal system.

Many types of surgical errors

  1. Wrong site surgery/procedure: surgical errors that occur when a surgeon performs a procedure on the wrong part of the patient's body. This can include joint repairs, healthy organ removal, repairs to the wrong eyes, fingers, limbs, etc. Not only do these procedures fail to resolve the primary issues or concerns, these mistakes may also rob patients of healthy organs or body parts that they can never get back.
  2. Harming other adjacent organs: Sometimes a surgery is performed correctly, but the surgeon acts too aggressively or accidentally injures a nearby organ in the body. Soft tissue organs in the body can often sustain light forces applied to them but soft organs and blood vessels do not fare well when they are inadvertently punctured or cut, and if left untreated can lead to serious problems after the surgery.
  3. Tools and instruments left in the body: This is a type of surgical error that is often shocking to hear about but all too common. As the heading suggests, these errors occur when a surgeon leaves a surgical tool or instrument in the patient's body. Objects frequently left include swabs, sponges, clamps or tools and in many cases these mistakes go undetected until the patient suffers complications or has another procedure. Surgeons and surgery support staff should alway take inventory of all tools prior to and immediately following a procedure, however, often there are mistakes counting and objects are lost in the body. When these mistakes cause the patient's condition to worsen or causes further injury, he or she can take legal action.
  4. Post-Operative Negligence: One of the most serious complications that can arise post-surgery is an infection at the operation site. Improper post-operative care, such as improper cleaning, or giving improper cleaning instructions to an outpatient, could be considered negligence under certain circumstances. Similarly, if during recovery, a patient is not properly monitored for signs of post-operative complications, it can also be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit.

How Surgical Error Victims Can Take Action

Patients who have suffered serious or worsening injuries as a result of mistakes or negligence during surgery may be able to hold negligent providers accountable.  If you suspect that surgical errors played a role in your injury or loss of a loved one, you shoul speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your legal options. There are time limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois, so take action early to protect your rights.

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