Of the many kinds of medical malpractice claims, surgical errors have some of the most devastating consequences for victims, many of whom incur thousands of dollars of additional medical expenses and are required to undergo extreme amounts of pain as a result of a medical professional’s negligent or reckless conduct. To learn more about your right to receive compensation for a surgical error, you should speak to a Richmond medical malpractice attorney as soon as you can.
Surgical Error Defined
Surgeries are complicated and can have serious side effects, so before undergoing a procedure, patients must acknowledge and accept some risks. Certain injuries, however, are solely attributable to the neglect of a surgeon, nurse, or other medical professional. In these cases, the injured party is usually eligible to recover damages for their losses.
Although there are a variety of mistakes that can qualify as surgical errors, research has shown that around 75 percent of medical errors occur during the actual surgery. Some of the most commonly occurring surgical errors include situations where:
- A surgeon left medical instruments inside a patient’s body;
- The surgeon operated on the wrong body part or patient;
- An anesthesiologist made a miscalculation, as a result of which, the patient suffered oxygen deprivation and subsequent brain damage;
- A doctor or nurse used a non-sterile surgical instrument, which resulted in an infection; and
- A surgeon did not use appropriate procedures or techniques, which led to an injury.
Many surgical errors can cause permanent damage. For instance, failing to provide a patient with an adequate amount of oxygen can cause irreparable brain damage.
In many cases, patients are initially unaware that an error was made during surgery. Often, the symptoms of a medical mistake do not begin manifesting for days or even weeks, so patients should remain vigilant for some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever and chills;
- Intense pain at or near the surgical site; or
- Redness or swelling near surgical wounds.
Just because a doctor made a surgical error does not mean that he or she will automatically be held liable for it. This is because lawmakers understand that medical procedures are complicated and often require extreme technical precision. If patients could sue hospitals and surgeons for every minor mistake made during a procedure, the courts would be inundated with medical malpractice claims.
For this reason, courts require injured patients to demonstrate that the doctor’s actions fell below the level of care that an ordinary health care professional with the same training and experience would have taken under similar circumstances and in the same geographical location. Furthermore, the plaintiff must be able to provide evidence that the substandard level of care resulted in an injury. While this may seem daunting, it can actually be a relatively easy burden to meet in cases where a physician left a surgical instrument inside a patient, operated on the wrong person, or operated on the wrong site, as it is clear, even to non-medical professionals that this type of conduct does not constitute compliance with a reasonable standard of care.
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If you were injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, please contact Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568 to speak with a dedicated medical malpractice attorney who can explain your legal options. A member of our legal team can also be reached via live chat.