Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
March 29, 2014

Does Medical Malpractice Include Surgical Errors?

Surgical errors are some of the most harmful forms of medical malpractice. Despite surgeries always coming with certain risks and potential complications, it is possible for someone to sue the surgeon and/or hospital for malpractice if a surgery results in patient harm, injury, or death. This is only the case if the defendant’s negligence or unlawful act caused the damages. If another surgeon would have done the same thing in similar circumstances, the harm was likely an unfortunate accident and nobody’s fault. If, however, one can prove a prudent surgeon would have reacted differently and prevented the harm, it may result in compensation. Surgical errors can take several forms:

  • Too much or too little anesthesia.
  • Failure to monitor the patient’s vital signs.
  • Wrong-site, wrong-patient, wrong-procedure surgeries.
  • Puncturing an organ or blood vessel.
  • Leaving surgical equipment in the body cavity.
  • Nursing staff negligence during pre- or post-operative care.
  • Using unsanitary tools, resulting in infection.
  • Using defective equipment.
  • Failure to notify of potential risks.

Prior to getting on the operating table, a patient must sign a consent form. This form states that the surgeon has informed the patient of the risks involved in the proposed surgical procedure. Risks differ depending on the type of surgery. If you signed a consent form before a surgery that ended in some type of harm, it does not necessarily mean that you’ve waived your rights. It only means that you can’t sue for risks that arose from the nature of the procedure. You may still be able to sue for injuries that stem from someone’s negligence.

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