What Should I Do After a Faulty Surgery?
What Should I Do After a Faulty Surgery?
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What Should I Do After a Faulty Surgery?
Surgery isn’t something that most people consider lightly. Even under the best circumstances, it’s a stressful prospect for an individual to face. Surgery comes with known risks. That’s why patients must sign an informed consent form prior to an operation that acknowledges they understand the risks. However, this consent form doesn’t absolve surgeons and their staff from making surgical errors.
Faulty surgeries can leave the victim in worse shape than they were before surgery. Victims can be left in a lot of pain. They’re inconvenienced, and they may be burdened with additional medical costs to fix what went wrong. If you’ve had the misfortune of having a faulty surgery – what to do next is likely on your mind.
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Can you sue a doctor for messing up surgery?
Medical malpractice law allows people to sue if they were injured because of faulty surgery if the surgical error was due to negligence, inattention, or the error could have been otherwise prevented. Here are some examples of faulty surgery that could warrant a medical malpractices lawsuit:
Wrong-site surgery - Wrong-site surgery is typically considered a rare event. However, a 2006 study by Mary R. Lwaan, MD, a colorectal surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, revealed there is one wrong-site surgery for every 112,994 surgeries. With approximately 65 million surgeries performed each year in the U.S., this kind of event isn’t as rare as medical professionals would like to admit. This kind of faulty surgery can cost patients their lives or result in permanent injury. Even more shocking, a 2013 survey reported that 12.4% of doctors that had performed a wrong-site surgery had claims against them for more than one event.
Wrong patient surgery - Performing an operation on the wrong patient is also considered a “never event,” yet this type of error happens. Wrong patient surgery could result in healthy organs being removed or injured and can also be detrimental to the patient who should have received the operation.
Leaving foreign objects inside a patient - Clamps, surgical sponges, and retractors are just some examples of foreign objects that could get left behind. This kind of surgical error is probably the easiest to avoid since it’s standard procedure to count all instruments before and after surgery. Foreign objects left behind can leave victims in excruciating pain and can cause abscesses, obstruction, or even worse.
Anesthesia errors - Anesthesia is meant to prevent patients from feeling pain during an operation. Still, mistakes in administering anesthesia can have deadly consequences. Too much anesthesia can kill, too little can leave a patient to feel everything that is happening to them. Doctors can use the wrong type of anesthesia or fail to recognize adverse drug reactions when mixed with certain types of anesthesia. Anesthesia errors can cause hypoxia, brain damage, or other organ damage.
Nerve damage - When surgeons perform an operation, it’s an invasive procedure. If a surgeon isn’t sufficiently careful, patients can suffer nerve damage. Nerve damage is caused when a surgeon nicks or cuts a nerve which damages the myelin. Scar tissue can put pressure on a nerve, causing tingling, burning sensations, muscle weakness, impaired mobility, numbness, or a complete loss of sensation. Nerve damage can occur if a surgeon is rushing, not paying attention, or via a slip of the hand. Some nerve damage is to be expected and typically heals on its own. However, if a patient is still suffering months after surgery, it could be a permanent injury.
Infection and cross-contamination - If the surgeon’s team does not clean or sanitize surgical instruments properly, patients are left vulnerable to infection, diseases, or the transmission of pathogens which can be fatal. Unsanitary instruments can cause sepsis, organ failure, loss of limbs, or an unusually long recovery period. While the risk of infection is inherent to surgical procedures, if a surgeon or the hospital fails to meet the standard of care that is the responsibility of all in the medical field, it could be cause for a medical malpractice claim.
Unnecessary surgery - The definition of unnecessary surgery is any surgery that is not needed, not indicated, or not in the patient’s best interest when compared to other available options. A shocking 70% of doctors believe that other doctors are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when it profits them. Since there are known risks for any surgery, performing an unnecessary surgery is particularly insidious when they leave a patient at risk for organ failure, infection, paralysis, or death.
Are all faulty surgeries grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Not every faulty surgery warrants a medical malpractice lawsuit. It’s only considered medical malpractice when you can prove a medical professional failed to live up to the “standard of care” for the profession. The standard of care is measured by how another medical professional specializing in the same field would have performed under the same circumstances. Proving a surgeon fell below the accepted standard of care usually requires the testimony of an expert witness in the medical field.
How do I prove a surgeon is guilty of medical malpractice?
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit requires several elements to be proven to the surgeon’s insurance company or the court.
Doctor-Patient relationship - A doctor-patient relationship must be established when suing for medical malpractice. This means that you were seeing the surgeon at their office, and the surgeon agreed to treat you. Likely you will have medical bills and documentation that the surgeon was treating you.
Negligence - The surgeon was negligent in performing their duties or failed to meet the standard of care for their specialty in the medical field. The surgeon injured you because they did not perform in a reasonably skilled manner.
Negligence was the cause of your injury - It must be proven that the surgeon’s negligence was more than likely the reason for your injury.
Damages - Even if a surgeon’s actions fall below the standard of care, they aren’t liable for anything if they didn’t cause you any harm. Damages could include pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, additional medical expenses sustained from your injury, and lost wages from missed work.
What is mandatory arbitration?
Since the 1970’s medical malpractice lawsuits have skyrocketed, which resulted in some health plans and health providers adopting mandatory, private, binding arbitration for disputes instead of the courts. Arbitration is considered an alternative to lengthy and costly jury trials. Sometimes these agreements are too one-sided and leave no opportunity to reargue the case in a courtroom. However, the validity of an arbitration clause can be challenged, particularly if the arbitration clause doesn’t comply with state medical malpractice laws. That’s why it’s critical to have legal representation in any type of medical malpractice dispute.
How long after surgery can you sue a doctor?
There is a time limit in every state in which you can sue a surgeon for a faulty surgery which is called the statute of limitations. Typically, the clock starts running as soon as you are injured (or should have known) you were harmed. However, every state has some exceptions to the time limit depending on the circumstances. It’s crucial to contact a medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible once you realize a surgeon has harmed you. Insurance companies often use slow reporting of the injury as a defense that you were not really harmed or not harmed to the level that would warrant compensation. Some states have a statute of limitations that is as short as one year for medical malpractice.
Faulty surgery — what to do next?
Suppose you’ve been the victim of faulty surgery. In that case, the first thing you could do is communicate with the doctor that performed your surgery to give them a chance to fix your injury. It’s a good idea to keep a diary of the pain and discomfort you feel, the conversations you have with your doctor, as well as document additional appointments and costs. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to the doctor that performed your surgery, you could get a second opinion from another surgeon. They may be able to indicate whether your surgeon failed to live up to the standard of care for the profession.
Next, get in touch with one of our medical malpractice lawyers to get expert guidance on how to proceed with a medical malpractice lawsuit in your state. They will be able to review all of your evidence and provide advice on how good your chances are at winning your case.
In some states, it’s a requirement to submit a claim to a malpractice review panel before proceeding with a lawsuit. This panel reviews the complaint and the evidence to determine whether medical malpractice took place. Although they do not replace a judge and jury, it’s a hoop some victims have to jump through as part of the process. You may also be required to give the surgeon notice of the malpractice claim as part of the process too.
How much is my medical malpractice case worth?
Every case is different, so it’s hard to estimate the kind of compensation you could get without reviewing all the facts of the case first. However, the National Practitioner Data Bank released a report in 2018 showing that the average payout for a successful medical malpractice claim averaged around $350,000 per claim, and about $4 billion total was paid out in damages across the U.S. that year.
The majority of medical malpractice claims are settled out of court, and only 3.5% of cases make it to trial. However, it’s the job of insurance company representatives to keep payouts as low as possible, so you may still have to aggressively negotiate low ball settlements to get the compensation you deserve.
Why hire Morgan & Morgan for my medical malpractice claim?
Victims of medical malpractice significantly increase their chances of a successful claim when they hire expert legal counsel. Our lawyers frequently negotiate a higher payout for our clients because of our extensive experience with insurance negotiations. In fact, we have quite a reputation because we’ve won billions for our clients over our long history. Our lawyers have the skills to prove your doctor’s liability for your injuries and negotiation skills to win you fair payment.
While it’s difficult to prove medical malpractice on your own, our accomplished lawyers have the know-how to win compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Don’t wait until it’s too late to file your claim. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. You don’t pay unless we win.