There is a common saying that there is no such thing as having a “minor surgery”. If you have a quadruple bypass or your appendix removed, having a surgical procedure is a serious matter. No one wants to hear that during their surgery an error took place, however, that does not necessarily mean that their surgeon committed medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a mistake that occurs because the doctor’s level of care was below the standard of care and the patient was harmed because of it. Simply because there was a surgical error during surgery, it does not mean that someone is liable for medical malpractice. In most instances with surgical error, it can be simple to determine if your surgeon’s care did not meet traditional standards of care. If you are able to prove that the surgical error took place because of your care falling below the standard of care, the issue then becomes if you were harmed by the error.
What is a Surgical Error?
A surgical error is a mistake during surgery that could have been prevented. Because all surgeries have some type of risk involved, it is common for the patient to sign a form stating that you understand the risks involved with the surgery. This is called “informed consent”. Surgical errors are things that occur outside these known risks of surgery. These errors are unexpected.
How Can Surgical Errors Take Place?
There are no two surgeries that are exactly the same. Due to the varying nature of surgeries, each surgical error and the cause of the error could be unique. The most common reasons surgical errors take place, include:
- Incompetence: If your surgeon has not performed this particular procedure many times and does not have the skills to successfully perform this surgery, it would be considered incompetence.
- Insufficient Planning Prior to Surgery: One very important task of the surgeon is to be well-prepared for the surgery. Preparing for the surgery includes reviewing and preparing for any potential complications that could likely occur. Preparation also includes ensuring assistants and nurses have all of the proper equipment ready and available for the surgeon.
- Improper Work Process: Surgeons could potentially decide to skip certain steps throughout the surgery that they deem as unnecessary. Skipping steps could potentially cause a surgical error.
- Poor Communication: Critical errors could results from doctors and nurses communicating poorly. For instance, a surgeon could mark the wrong place for an incision or a nurse did not provide the necessary equipment. There could also be poor communication regarding a patient’s medication. All of these examples could result in a poor consequence.
- Fatigue: As a result of surgeons working long shifts, they often suffer from fatigue. People who are tired often make more mistakes than those who are well-rested.
- Neglect: In some cases, surgeons are just not as careful as they are trained to be.
If you believe you have suffered from a surgical error caused by medical malpractice, you should speak with an experienced medical negligence lawyer Salt Lake City, Utah trusts. Legally and procedurally, these cases can be very complex and it is important to have someone experienced on your side.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into hospital malpractice and surgery.