Can You Sue For a Surgical Error?

Desperate surgeon in blue surgical clothes with hands in front of the face

You have the right to sue for a surgical error after suffering an injury caused by a surgeon’s negligence or carelessness. Each surgical procedure, however, carries certain risks. This realization informs most surgeons to have surgical patients sign an informed consent form. The consent form indicates that a patient is aware of the potential dangers of the specific surgical procedure.

Wrong-site surgery and anesthesia errors are some of the common errors occurring during surgeries. Others include wrong-patient surgery and infections caused by unsanitary surgical tools. Do not hesitate to file a medical malpractice claim if you or a loved one suffers an injury due to surgical errors caused by a surgeon’s negligence or inattention.

You must prove that you had a professional relationship with the doctor for your claim to be viable. You must also show that the doctor acted negligently, that the negligence led to your injuries, and you incurred substantial damages because of those injuries. 

Can You Sue for a Surgical Error?

Accidents do occur, and surgical errors are no exception. During surgery, there is an inherent risk of a surgical error. Doctors always work hard to ensure no surgical errors happen. You can pursue damages through a medical malpractice claim if an avoidable surgical error leaves you or a loved one with serious injuries. 

Medical malpractice cases have a significantly higher burden of proof than other types of personal injury cases. They also have strict deadlines and requirements. Medical malpractice lawyers in Nevada can help individuals harmed or injured because of a surgical error determine if they have enough grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. The lawyers can also walk injured parties through the process of filing a medical malpractice claim. They can also help the injured parties assemble sufficient evidence to satisfy the high burden of proof. 

Most Common Types of Surgery Errors

Wrong-Site Surgery

Wrong-site surgery is one of the most common surgical errors in Nevada. This surgical error occurs when a surgeon performs a procedure on the wrong body part. This error can sometimes be debilitating or even fatal. Some unfortunate cases include wrong limb amputation. 

Wrong-Patient Surgery

This surgery error involves a surgical procedure on the wrong patient. The patient the surgery was intended for fails to get surgical attention on time. The victim of wrong-patient surgery suffers lasting negative effects. The injured patient may develop health complications, as most surgeries have side effects.

Leaving Surgical Tools inside the Body

Although not as common as wrong site injury, surgeons sometimes leave their tools inside a patient’s body. A surgeon may perform an excellent surgical procedure but leave a surgical instrument inside your body. The left surgical instrument, gauze, or sponge can result in organ damage and infections. 

Infection

You might develop an infection if a surgeon uses unsanitary surgical tools during a surgical procedure. Sepsis might occur if you have a weak immune system. Septic shock can be fatal if not treated immediately. 

Injuries to other Body Organs or Nerves

A surgeon always has a target body part on which the surgeon intends to perform a surgical procedure. However, the surgeon may accidentally puncture the neighboring tissues or organs. The injury may come from applying more than the needed force on a scalpel or scissors. When such injuries occur, they may lead to disabling conditions or even deaths. 

Anesthesia Errors

Administering anesthesia to a patient is inherently risky. An anesthesiologist must review a patient’s medical records before administering anesthesia. This medical review informs the medical professional on the best combination of drugs to administer. Although accidental anesthesia errors do occur, negligence is the primary contributing factor. You have the right to sue for injuries caused by an anesthesiologist’s failure to exercise reasonable competence and care.

Anesthesia errors can occur in two intertwined planks. One is during the pre-operative procedure when the anesthesiologist fails to capture all key patient medical details. The other one is during the surgical procedure when the anesthesiologist administers medication, which triggers an allergic reaction in the patient. This error happens due to failure to capture all crucial medical information of the patient. The outcome of this error can be a severe injury or death.

How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to meet the acceptable standard of care within his or her medical community and injures or harms a patient. You must show the following four elements to prove that medical malpractice happened.

Presence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

This element requires you to prove that you hired a doctor who, in turn, agreed to work on your medical case. You can easily demonstrate the presence of a doctor-patient relationship with your medical records. This is because your medical record will contain the sign of the doctor handling your medical case.

You cannot sue a doctor you overheard giving medical advice in a social place. If you do, the doctor will deny having any doctor-patient relationship with you. The outcome is that your case will be dismissed. You can only hold a doctor liable if you had an agreement before your treatment or surgery.

Proof of the Doctor’s Negligence

A doctor must meet the applicable medical standard of care during treatment or medical procedure. Feeling unsatisfied with a medical procedure or treatment is not a valid reason to lodge a medical malpractice claim. 

You must demonstrate that the doctor departed from the relevant medical standard of care and caused you harm or injuries. In other words, you must show that a reasonably competent and cautious doctor operating under the same circumstances would not have harmed or injured you. 

You may need the testimony of a different medical professional to prove your doctor’s negligence. The medical expert witness will outline the relevant medical standard of care and show how your doctor departed from that standard. 

Proof that the Doctor’s Negligence Led to Your Injuries

Many treatments or medical procedures involve a patient that is already ill. As such, linking the patient’s injuries to the doctor’s negligence or inaction is hard. This calls for a medical expert witness to examine the details of the alleged medical malpractice incident and prepare a comprehensive report. The medical expert witness can then testify that the doctor’s negligence directly caused your injuries  

Proof that Your Injury Resulted in Specific Damages

You cannot file a medical malpractice claim if you did not suffer any harm or injury because of the doctor’s negligence. You can only sue if you suffered physical or psychological injuries. Other recoverable damages in a medical malpractice suit include medical bills and lost earnings. 

Keeping a pain journal is the best way to show the impact of your medical malpractice injury on your life. Your attorney can review the details of your pain journal when determining the damages to pursue from the defendant(s). 

The attorney can also use those details to paint a picture of the suffering you endure daily because of your injuries on the minds of the insurer, jury members, or the judge. Doing this increases your odds of receiving a reasonable settlement if an agreement is reached with the insurer or a fair court award if your case proceeds to full trial. As such, a pain journal may help your injury case

Medical Malpractice Claims Involving Surgery Errors 

As stated earlier, surgery errors are common occurrences, like other types of accidents. Surgery errors range from minor to major. Performing a surgical procedure on the wrong body part falls under the major surgery error category. Minor errors can also arise during surgery. The surgeon performing the surgery is often responsible for both minor and major surgery errors.

Humans are prone to errors, and doctors are no exception. Doctors can make surgical mistakes due to fatigue from performing surgeries for long hours. They can also make surgery errors because of working while sick. 

You have the right to recover damage if you suffer injuries due to surgical errors arising from a surgeon’s negligence or carelessness. You can still file a strict liability claim even if your surgeon didn’t intentionally cause your injuries.

Strict liability claims can increase your recovery, as they allow you to pursue compensation from multiple defendants. You might recover reasonable compensation if you convince the judge or jury that you suffered an avoidable injury or harm due to the surgeon’s failure to follow the standard medical protocols. 

Surgery errors may sometimes cause the death of a loved one. You can file a wrongful death lawsuit as a surviving family member in such a case. Lost income, lost employment benefits, medical expenses, and the deceased person’s physical pain and mental anguish are some recoverable damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Besides the regular medical malpractice damages, you can receive compensation for the deceased’s funeral and burial costs. You might also pursue compensation for loss of support if you relied on the deceased loved one for financial support. You must provide evidence of financial support from the deceased person to recover compensation for the loss of support.