Surgeons are tasked with some of the most dangerous and life-threatening work in the world, operating on their patients. Unfortunately, not all surgeons perform their duties with the level of diligence that’s expected and required of them. Even if the surgical error doesn’t prove fatal, it could mean a lifetime of significant and irreversible injuries. And if the error was the result of negligence, the Chicago medical malpractice attorneys of Hale & Monico could win you the compensation you deserve.
Common Surgical Errors
First, consider some of the most common surgical errors. These are cases that, if there is evidence of negligence on the part of the surgeon, will likely support a medical malpractice claim. They include the following:
- Unnecessary or inappropriate surgeries
- Anesthesia mistakes, such as using too much or not being mindful of a patient’s allergies
- Cutting an organ or another part of the body by mistake
- Instruments and other foreign objects left inside patients
- Pre- or postoperative mistakes, such as failure to address complications resulting from surgery
These and other mistakes can kill a patient. Even if they don’t, there’s a likelihood the patient will need dangerous emergency treatments to reverse the mistake. Surgical errors can cause permanent problems such as paralysis, brain injury, and other serious and life-changing complications.
Why do surgical errors happen?
Medical malpractice cases are built on a theory of negligence. That means, as some injured patients are surprised to learn, not every medical error is the result of malpractice. Surgeons are not perfect, and the law doesn’t expect them to be. To prove any malpractice case in Illinois, the injured patient must show that the mistake was unreasonable in light of the circumstances. It starts by demonstrating that the surgeon exhibited some type of negligent act or omission, such as:
- Incompetence. If the surgeon is not properly trained, or not trained to handle the specific operation involved, he or she is incompetent and should not perform the procedure. Although this seems common sense, plenty of surgeons commit malpractice every year because they overestimate their ability to successfully handle the operation.
- Insufficient staffing. Sometimes the mistake is due to not having enough support staff, such as operating room nurses and others who are responsible for patient care. But staffing mistakes can also harm the patient before or after the procedure. For example, a nurse may be overworked and fail to check on the status of a patient after surgery.
- Fatigue. Doctors are often overworked and don’t get the rest they need to safely perform an operation. Surgeries require absolute focus and attention, which is lacking when the mind and body are tired.
- Drugs or alcohol. A shocking number of surgeons are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they perform their procedures. This clearly is irresponsible behavior and is almost irrefutable evidence of medical malpractice.
- Lack of communication. Errors often happen in the medical setting due to bad communication among doctors, nurses, and other professionals. A seemingly minor error, like failing to fully document a patient’s allergies, can have disastrous consequences on the operating table. Mistakes like these are frequently due to negligence.
- Prescription medication errors. Patients often have to take prescription medications leading up to or after their surgeries. Often these medications are necessary to prevent infections after the operation. But prescription drugs always carry the risk that a patient will be injured.
And the list of possible causes goes on. When filing a claim for medical malpractice, it’s important to understand why the mistakes occurred in the first place. Proving these and other circumstances will be necessary to assert that malpractice was the ultimate cause of the error.
If you’ve been injured by a negligent surgical procedure, count on Hale & Monico. We investigate claims of malpractice, then get to work fighting for the compensation that injured patients deserve. Reach out to us today to schedule your consultation.