A type of medical malpractice, surgical malpractice refers to improper, negligent, or even illegal activity conducted by a surgeon, anesthesiologist, or any other medical professional during surgery that results in injuries to a patient. While surgical errors may be blamed on both institutions and individuals, surgical malpractice is by definition the fault of individual practitioners.
As one of the leading causes of death in the United States, medical errors remain a serious concern for patients undergoing any kind of treatment. Surgery, however, is perhaps the most fraught with the possibility for mistakes.
Recent studies show there are more than 4,000 surgical errors every year, and any one of those mistakes could potentially lead to a surgical malpractice claim.
In fact, most malpractice claims in hospitals are related to surgical mistakes.
How could doctors and other highly trained healthcare professionals be responsible for so many grievous errors? Negligence can range from carelessness to outright malice, but usually, it’s the result of a preventable error.
Sokolove Law can help you determine if you have a legal case for surgical malpractice. Start your free case review today. As a nationwide law firm, we can assess your claim regardless of where you live.
While our roots are in Boston and the New England area, Sokolove Law has over 40 years of experience with these cases and has helped thousands of clients across the country.
Common Types of Surgical Mistakes
Surgical errors can occur in any number of ways, some more harmful than others. In almost all cases, however, the damage suffered to patients is the result of negligent care for which surgeons and medical professionals should be held accountable.
Here are some common examples of surgical mistakes:
One of the most egregious forms of surgical malpractice is known as “wrong-site surgery,” and it’s just what it sounds like: A surgeon operates on the wrong part or side of the patient’s body. As shocking as that may sound, these incidents are more common than one might think.
According to a 2012 study, wrong-site surgeries happen anywhere from 1,300 to 2,700 times a year.
Among the many damaging and possibly irreversible consequences to a patient’s health, this type of surgical error is made all the worse by the fact that the patient will most likely have to endure a second surgery to correct the first, if possible.
It may go without saying, but these kinds of surgical errors are entirely preventable, and the parties responsible should be held fully accountable.
Similar to wrong-site surgery, an incorrect operation refers to a surgical procedure that is not necessary or not carried out correctly. In both cases, the patient will have to recover from an operation that did nothing to treat their underlying condition and may leave them in a worse condition overall.
Perhaps the most nightmarish malpractice scenario is a mistaken amputation, in which doctors remove a body part unnecessarily. In these cases, surgeons may remove the wrong leg, or they may make a bad diagnosis requiring an amputation that was never actually needed. Both scenarios are unfortunately well-known in the world of surgical malpractice.
Injury During Surgery
In some cases, surgeons carry out an operation in such a reckless way that causes harm to the patient, sometimes even irreversibly.
During surgery, surgeons may:
- Damage internal organs
- Tear nerve or muscle fibers
- Mismanage anesthesia
- Disregard vital signs altogether
- Leave surgical instruments inside the body
These kinds of injuries can occur on top of other mistakes, or they can happen during an otherwise flawless operation. In both cases, the patient may suffer undue harm.
Botched Plastic Surgery
Botched plastic surgeries can occur during an operation or later on as a result of it. A botched plastic surgery may result in excessive scarring, disfigurement, blood clots, infections, or even nerve damage. In nearly all cases, the blame falls on negligent or improperly trained plastic surgeons.
While all surgeries are risky, plastic surgery is especially so. Because plastic surgery isn’t usually covered by health insurance, the field can attract a number of unqualified or uncertified surgeons who want to cash in on a growing trend.
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you hold your plastic surgeon accountable for their surgical mistakes. If you or a loved one have been injured by cosmetic or plastic surgery, get a free legal case review today to find out what your legal options may be.
Another nightmare scenario involves a patient literally catching fire while undergoing an operation. Surgeons often rely on electrical instruments, including lasers and cauterizers, to perform complex surgical tasks. In an oxygen-rich environment like an operating room, these instruments can ignite.
As the patient likely will not be awake during the fires, they’re helpless against severe burns and scars. In a worst-case scenario, the patient can be killed.
What to Do If a Surgeon Makes a Mistake
If you or a loved one has suffered from a surgical mistake, contact an attorney right away. No matter how shocking or negligent the error, the responsibility to prove a case of surgical malpractice is on the patient’s legal team, so time is of the essence.
In most situations, the injured patient’s legal team will have to show what the surgeon did wrong, what they could have done differently, and that any damage suffered is directly attributable to surgical error.
Medical malpractice attorneys like those at Sokolove Law are experienced in identifying the root of the problem and determining whether or not you have a case. Reach out to us today for a free legal consultation.
How to File a Surgical Malpractice Lawsuit
The basic steps involved in filing a surgical malpractice suit are likely familiar enough, although they may vary from case to case.
1. Contact a Surgical Malpractice Attorney
The first step toward filing a surgical malpractice lawsuit is to contact a malpractice attorney right away. They can help you with every step of a malpractice lawsuit.
2. Determine the Extent of Damages
Once you’ve spoken with a qualified, experienced surgical malpractice attorney, the next step will most likely involve contacting the medical professional or surgeon directly, in the hopes of treating and determining the extent of your damages.
You’ll also need to get an independent medical assessment to verify the damages occurred and to confirm that the surgeon or practitioner deviated from accepted medical practices, resulting in injury.
3. Notify the Medical Licensing Board
Next, your malpractice attorney will need to contact the relevant medical licensing board for guidance. The licensing board may also discipline the practitioner as they see fit.
4. Settle or Go to Court
A vast majority of surgical malpractice lawsuits settle before they ever go to court. Whether it’s wiser to accept an out-of-court settlement or go to court for a potentially larger jury verdict depends on the nature of the case and the likelihood of persuading a jury with evidence. Your legal team will discuss your options before helping you reach a decision.
While Sokolove Law started in Massachusetts and later New Hampshire and Rhode Island, we’re proud to offer legal assistance nationwide. Over the last 40 years, Sokolove Law has helped thousands of clients across the country get the legal help they deserve.
If you or a loved one has suffered a surgical error, reach out to us today to see if you may have a case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Surgical Malpractice?
Often the first question a surgical malpractice victim has is: “How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?” The quick answer is the sooner you begin the legal process, the better.
Each state has its own set of laws that determine precisely how much time an individual has to pursue legal action after an injury. These time limits are known as a “statute of limitation.”
Once a state’s time limit has passed, the window of opportunity to file a legal claim closes forever. Statutes of limitations rarely exceed a period of 1-3 years after an injury, which is why victims are encouraged to act as quickly as possible.
If you think you or a family member may have experienced surgical malpractice, Sokolove Law can help you figure out your legal options with a free case review.
Choosing Your Surgical Mistake Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been injured at the hands of a negligent surgeon or medical practitioner, contact Sokolove Law for a free consultation. Our team of expert attorneys has decades of experience securing settlements for victims of malpractice.
We promise to thoroughly examine your claim and determine whether or not you may have a case. If we believe that you do, we will walk you through all the steps involved, helping you obtain the medical information, records, and evidence you need to build a strong case.
Don’t delay — contact us today for a free legal consultation, you may be eligible for compensation if you’ve been injured.