Even with all of the modern medical technology available today, physicians inevitably make mistakes. Many are harmless and go unnoticed, while countless others result in serious injury, and even death. The fine line between innocent mistake and medical malpractice can be quite fine. An experienced medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer trusts can analyze these cases and determine what legal options may be available to the patient. One serious type of medical malpractice case stems from mistakes made during surgery.
Common Types of Mistakes Occurring During Surgery
Surgery is a complex discipline, so there are innumerable errors that can be made. That said, there are some that are more common than others, and that often lead to claims of medical malpractice.
1. Surgery on the Wrong Site
This occurs more often than one would like to think, and involves a patient being subject to a surgery on the wrong part of the body. An all too common example is the amputation of the wrong limb. Not only is this an irreversible error, but the intended amputation must also still take place after the fact.
2. Unnecessary Surgery or Surgery Performed on the Wrong Patient
Even with all of the measures in place in most healthcare facilities to guard against this, it still happens. A patient might be in the hospital for a routine observation and have his or her appendix removed, only to find out that is an uneccessary surgery. This brings a host of negative consequences and potential complications from the surgery itself, some of them long-lasting and potentially life threatening.
3. Avoidable Infection
While not all infections within a hospital setting can be avoided, infection that is caused by the use of unsanitary surgical instruments is particularly troubling. There are a great many complications, many of them serious, that can result from an infection. It is also possible that a new disease can be introduced into the body. All of these factors are serious indicators of possible medical malpractice.
4. Failure to Remove Surgical Instruments
The operating room is a busy place with many moving parts. While many hospitals require that all instruments in the room be counted and accounted for before any procedure is considered to be complete, not all do. Even in cases where the requirement is there, there are still many documented incidences of surgical equipment and instruments being left in the body after the surgery. This can lead to serious complications down the road, such as possible infection.
5. Internal Organ Damage
While the vast majority of surgeries go exactly as planned, there are some that result in damage to a neighboring organ. This often results from the organ being perforated or punctured accidentally with a piece of surgical equipment, such as a scalpel. This might be an accident, but it is the type of accident that can lead to a serious medical malpractice suit.
6. Damage to the Nerves
This type of error most commonly occurs when there is a mistake made in the administration of anesthesia. This can lead to long term nerve damage that may be difficult for the patient to recover from.
Mistakes happen, but they are unacceptable in the operating room. Medical malpractice laws are intended to protect patients and hold medical professionals responsible when mistakes are made. When an accident strikes, patients depend on lawyers to help them navigate an increasingly complex medical and legal system in order to ensure that their rights are fully protected.