San Antonio Surgical Error Attorney
Surgical Errors in San Antonio, TX
All doctors take an oath to “do no harm.” Even still, patient safety is compromised at the hands of medical professionals every day in the United States. In fact, a recent study claims that Americans spend a grand total of $20 billion every year just for medical errors. Additionally, medical errors result in more than 100,000 deaths every year. Tragically, many of these medical errors occur in the operating room. If you or someone you love has suffered major health complications from a mistake in the operating room, you need a San Antonio surgical error attorney to fight for your justice.
Our law firm can help you recover maximum financial compensation through a surgical error lawsuit. Call us today at 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation.
What is a Surgical Error?
A surgical error is a form of medical malpractice that occurs when a surgeon makes a mistake during the surgical process that could have been prevented. Patients may or may not suffer complications from surgical mistakes, depending on what kind of mistake occurred and the severity of the mistake.
What is Informed Consent?
All surgeries come with health risks. Depending on the surgery, many risks are expected and unpreventable, even with a world-class surgeon. That’s why all patients have to sign an “informed consent” form which states that your surgeon has informed you of the risks of your surgery, but you still want to proceed anyway.
So informed consent is a medical ethics principle that states that patients should be able to make free, informed decisions about their healthcare. This means that patients should be informed of both the risks and benefits before undergoing a treatment or procedure.
Surgical errors aren’t included in the known risks associated with a surgical procedure because in most cases, they are completely preventable and unexpected.
How Many Surgical Errors Occur in the U.S. Every Year?
Surgeons perform approximately 50 million surgeries in the U.S. every year. Of these surgeries, approximately 4,000 surgical errors occur, with operating on the wrong body part being one of the most common types of surgical errors.
While many medical errors in general tend to be reduced to human error, this is not always the case. As modern medicine becomes more technically advanced, there are more and more robots helping surgeons in the operating room. Robotic assistance during surgical procedures is thought to be safer and more accurate. However, a study claims that robotic surgery can actually increase a patient’s chances of accidental hemorrhage.
Examples of Surgical Errors
Common surgical errors include:
- Performing surgery on the wrong part of the patient’s body (AKA: wrong site surgery). In many medical malpractice cases, this means that the surgeon performed surgery on the wrong side of the patient’s body.
- Performing surgery on the wrong patient (AKA: wrong patient surgery).
- Leaving foreign objects and other equipment inside the patient’s body.
- Giving the patient too much or too little anesthesia which results in major health complications or anesthesia awareness.
- Failing to properly sanitize surgical instruments before a procedure.
- Failing to properly scrub in before a procedure.
- Performing the wrong procedure on a patient.
- Injuring a major nerve, muscle, tendon, or organ during a surgical procedure.
- Performing a completely unnecessary surgery on a patient due to misdiagnosis or negligence.
- Using the wrong surgical instruments during a surgical procedure.
- Failing to inform the patient of possible risks associated with a surgery or surgical technique.
- Failing to provide the patient with prophylactic antibiotics in order to prevent a hospital acquired infection.
Complications from Surgical Errors
Patients can suffer a wide variety of injuries and complications depending on the type of surgery and surgical error they endured. Complications from surgical errors can include:
- Symptoms of anesthesia overdose
- Nerve, muscle, tendon, or organ damage
- Partial or total paralysis
- Unnecessary amputation
- Unnecessary removal of an essential organ
- A traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to lack of oxygen during surgery
- Repeat surgery to fix the surgical injury or infection
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- PTSD from enduring a medical malpractice incident
Why Do Surgical Errors Happen?
Surgeons are humans, and all humans are naturally subject to human error. That being said, many surgical error cases are blatant examples of violated standard of care. In other words, most medical errors that occur during surgery just should not happen, yet they often do because of the following reasons:
Communication between all medical professionals before, during, and after surgery is crucial in order to avoid mistakes. Lack of communication could result in marking the wrong body part, administering the wrong anesthesia (or not administering the correct anesthesia dosage), receiving the wrong surgical equipment, receiving the wrong medical record or test results before surgery, etc. Every medical professional must be on the same page before a patient is open on the table.
A surgeon must be prepared to perform a procedure a certain way. Additionally, they must be prepared for any complications that could occur while the patient is open on the table. This means that they should review the patient’s test results and medical records before surgery. Additionally, they should ensure that they have a specific plan for how they are going to perform the surgery. Lastly, they should prepare to have the correct surgical tools and surgical assistants during a procedure. Showing up to a surgery and just “winging it” could result in a life-threatening medical error.
A successful surgeon is created through lots of skill and lots of experience. Surgeons who aren’t very skilled or who don’t have much experience in performing a specific type of surgery could certainly compromise patient safety. For example, a plastic surgeon may have plenty of skill and experience in performing all sorts of breast surgeries. But that doesn’t mean that the same plastic surgeon has just as much skill or experience in performing rhinoplasties. Therefore, a patient could receive a botched nose job that not only creates severe aesthetic issues, but also creates severe breathing issues.
Every single health care professional works incredibly long hours. Long hours lead to lack of sleep and, therefore, chronic stress. It’s so easy to make mistakes and just not think clearly when you’re tired and stressed. Unfortunately, both fatigue and stress can lead to mistakes in the operating room.
In order to cope with the chronic stress and fatigue of working long hours and seeing medical horrors on a first-hand basis, some doctors turn to drugs and alcohol. If a surgeon, surgical assistant, or anesthesiologist performs their duties while intoxicated, they could definitely make a mistake. While it seems like common sense to never operate on a patient with drugs or alcohol in your system, it does happen.
General carelessness from any health care professional before, during, and after a surgery could result in medical malpractice. Examples include leaving a foreign object inside the body, operating on the wrong person or the wrong body part, failing to properly scrub in, etc.
Some surgeries can last upwards of 8 hours. This is physically and mentally exhausting for everyone involved. A surgeon may try to take shortcuts during a procedure in order to finish up quicker. This can result in life-threatening complications.
Preventing Surgical Errors
Most surgical error cases are entirely preventable. In order to prioritize patient care during surgery, many hospitals have implemented a variety of surgical checklists and guidelines.
For example, many surgical teams are required to pause before administering anesthesia and making an incision. During this pause, the surgical team must verify the patient’s identity, the patient’s medical condition, the procedure that the patient is undergoing, and the patient’s surgical site. Implementing a checklist like this can be crucial in preventing wrong site surgery or wrong person surgery.
Before closing the patient, the surgeon performing the procedure must count all the sponges and instruments to ensure that no foreign objects are left inside the body. The surgical team must also ensure that the patient is stable and that whatever specimen was removed from the body is properly labeled.
Other preventative measures that medical teams should take is having appropriate staffing, prioritizing communication with the patient and with each other, reviewing a patient’s test results and medical records before a procedure, and ensuring that the patient has given informed consent.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice Claims
All medical malpractice claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. So in order to prove that medical malpractice occurred, patients must prove the 4 D’s of negligence.
- Duty of Care: All surgeons owe their patients a specific duty of care, also known as the medical standard of care.
- Duty Dereliction: The surgeon failed to provide the proper medical standard of care by operating in the wrong location or on the wrong patient, causing one or more preventable injuries during surgery, performing the wrong procedure, etc.
- Direct Cause: The patient suffered health complications or injuries as a direct result of the surgeon’s medical error.
- Damages: The patient suffered numerous non-economic and economic damages for which they should receive maximum financial compensation.
Proving all these elements of negligence can be a difficult feat, especially without experienced legal counsel. The San Antonio medical malpractice attorneys at Janicek Law can help injured patients gather sufficient evidence to prove that a surgical error occurred.
Damages for Surgical Errors
Injured patients could recover financial compensation for the following types of damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Expenses associated with necessary medical equipment such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, etc.
- Caregiving expenses if the injured patient is partially or fully disabled from the surgical error
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if the patient suffered a permanent injury that will prevent them from fulfilling their previous job duties
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
- Counseling costs associated with emotional anguish and/or PTSD
- Funeral and burial expenses if the surgical error resulted in wrongful death
How a San Antonio Surgical Error Attorney Can Help You
A San Antonio surgical error attorney can help an injured patient by:
- Listening to their story and helping them determine the best course of action, even if that means filing a lawsuit
- Walking them through the entire legal process
- Hiring experienced medical experts to assist with the legal and medical investigation
- Gathering sufficient evidence to prove that medical negligence occurred before, during, or after their surgery
- Protecting their rights throughout the entire legal process
- Fighting for maximum financial compensation for their damages