An Honest Discussion of Surgical Errors
According to WebMD, more than 4,000 preventable surgical mistakes occur every year. That alone makes many people terrified of medical procedures, and to discover that the medical malpractice payments that these surgical errors generate is more than one billion dollars is even more overwhelming. The reason that the payments for these errors are so high is that very few of them should happen at all. They are entirely preventable.
This means that a huge number of surgical errors are purely due to negligence and medical malpractice. Because of this, patients injured (or surviving families of those killed) are given enormous compensation to make up for damages and losses. Of course, surgical errors are not always a clear-cut case of malpractice, and this is why anyone who feels that they did suffer unnecessary surgical errors must consult with an attorney as soon as they can after an incident has occurred.
Understanding Mistakes, Liability, and Standards of Care
Usually, the term medical malpractice is going to apply to an incident in which the accepted medical standard of care was not followed and that this substandard care led to some sort of harm or injury. So, if you were not harmed by something that went wrong during surgery, you may not have a very obvious case of medical malpractice to pursue. This is precisely why you must get in touch with an attorney before following up on surgical errors and making legal claims.
So, just what is a surgical error in the general framework of medical malpractice? As stated – it is a preventable mistake. We’ve all seen headlines that we wish we never read, such as the patient who has the wrong limb or organ removed accidentally, or that the constant pain someone felt in the days and weeks after surgery was a clamp or sponge left behind. These are very obvious instances of medical malpractice and surgical error.
Now, any patient about to have a surgery of any kind understands that they are assuming some risk. This is why there are forms and documents that have to be signed before any treatment can be given. Patients indicate that they are giving informed consent with such documents, acknowledging that there is an element of risk to the surgery. However, this does not relieve a surgeon or medical team of the need to use the utmost care and professionalism during surgery.
As the experts say – errors are those that go well beyond the risks that a patient has been informed about prior to surgery.
How Surgical Errors Happen
How is it possible in this modern era for major errors to occur? With all of the technologies and machines we have at our beck and call, it does seem shocking that trained medical experts would make avoidable mistakes. The statistics show that most errors happen because of:
- Bad communication between the surgeon and the medical team.
- Incompetence in the surgeon, perhaps because they are unfamiliar with the procedure or devices used.
- Shortcuts are not common, but can be disastrous to the patient.
- Failure to plan for any challenges or problems.
- Surgeon fatigue.
- Neglect on the part of the surgeon or medical team.
- Illegal use of drugs and alcohol on the part of the physician.
These are but a few of the things that can lead to serious errors. If you are the victim of errors during surgery, or a loved one has suffered such an injury, the smartest decision you can make is to speak with an experienced lawyer. They can help you decide if you should pursue compensation, and then help you determine the best way to begin.
WebMD.com. Thousands of mistakes made in surgery every year. 2012. http://www.webmd.com/news/20121220/thousands-mistakes-surgery