Five Cases In Which You Can File For Medical Malpractice Post-Surgery
Surgery has come a long way in the past few decades. Surgeons have developed new techniques and also machines to reduce fatigue and reduce the risk of errors. Still, mistakes do happen. And sometimes, if a mistake is made during your surgery, you may be able to sue for medical malpractice, allowing you to recoup money to account for your pain, suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. What kinds of surgical mistakes warrant a malpractice case? Here's a look.
1. Surgery on the wrong site
This may be your worst nightmare when you head in for surgery -- that the surgeon will remove the wrong finger, operate on the wrong foot, or cauterize the wrong ureter. As unlikely as this type of mistake may sound, wrong-site procedures do occur. About one in every 112,000 surgical procedures is performed on the wrong site. If this happens to you, then you absolutely have a strong medical malpractice case.
Malpractice cases hinge on being able to demonstrate that a reasonable doctor acting in the best interests of their patient would not have made the same mistake. There are protocols that are typically followed pre-surgery, such as marking the limb to be operated on, that may have been skipped in your case -- and with dire consequences. Most judges should agree that performing surgery on the wrong body part is a vast oversight and sign of negligence on the part of your surgeon.
2. Surgery that was not necessary
Consider the following scenario as an example. You go to the hospital with stomach pain. Without running any tests, a doctor insists that your appendix is causing the problem and must be removed. You're rushed into surgery, and your appendix is removed, but in the months that follow, your pain does not go away. It's then found that, actually, your appendix was fine. The real problem is a cancerous lesion in your small intestine. At this point, you could file for malpractice and claim that the appendix removal was an unnecessary procedure. The fact that proper testing was not done to verify that your appendix was the problem demonstrates negligence. Unnecessary surgery claims are a very common type of malpractice claim.
3. Surgery that resulted in infection
There is always a risk of infection post-surgery. However, sometimes infection can be perpetuated by mistakes made by the surgical team. If they did not follow proper sanitation protocol or used dirty instruments and this led to your infection, you may be able to sue for malpractice. This type of case is challenging because it usually relies on other people who were present during surgery -- like assistants and nurses -- giving testimony against the doctor who made the mistake.
4. Surgical instrument left inside your body
If you continue to suffer unexplained pain and discomfort post-surgery, make sure that your doctor checks for any surgical instruments that may have been left inside your body during the procedure. Suturing instruments, scalpels, clamps, and other small devices sometimes get left behind, and this absolutely constitutes malpractice. You can seek compensation for all of the procedures required to remove the instruments and for any work you miss as a result of the pain and recovery time.
5. Surgery that resulted in nerve damage
If your doctor informed you that nerve damage was a likely outcome of the surgery before the procedure, then you probably don't have a malpractice case. However, if nerve damage was never mentioned pre-surgery and you are now left with nerve damage, that is another story. Neurological symptoms sometimes improve as time goes on, but if you're left with even a slight tingling or numbness, you should talk to a lawyer about filing a malpractice case.
For more information, get in touch with a firm such as R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C.