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What Types of Surgical Errors Indicate Medical Malpractice?

Published on April 23, 2019

When going in for any surgical procedure, it can be scary. You’re putting your life in the hands of a surgeon. You expect your doctor to be trained, informed and focused. But a simple search online will show that surgical errors can happen – and the effects can be devastating, even deadly. Like any other professional, doctors and surgeons sometimes make mistakes.

Unfortunately, mistakes made during medical procedures prove much more dangerous than most professional mistakes, and can ultimately lead to illness, injury or death. Surgical errors comprise some of the most dangerous medical mistakes; however, how can you determine if a surgical error is medical malpractice? Consider this quick guide.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a very specific form of personal injury that must adhere to a strict set of guidelines. In general, however, malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to act in a way that meets the standard of care, injuring a patient. The medical professional then assumes responsibility for compensating the patient for the harm suffered as a result of the injury.

In order to prove medical malpractice, you must demonstrate that the following four requirements apply to the situation causing your injury:

  • You entered into a doctor-patient relationship with the medical professional causing the injury. This requirement is fairly easy to meet in any clinical setting, including emergency rooms, where a doctor directly treated you.
  • The doctor behaved negligently. In order to meet this requirement, you must usually provide a medical expert witness to discuss the standard of care for the condition for which the doctor treated you. If the doctor failed to meet the standard of care and provide you with the same treatment or diagnosis any other reasonable medical professional reaches in the same situation, and if the action or lack of action resulted in injury, you may conclude the doctor acted negligently.
  • The negligence caused your injury. You must show that the doctor’s actions either compounded a previous injury or condition, or caused a new injury. Usually, you must provide testimony from a medical expert that will corroborate the fact that the doctor’s actions directly caused your injuries.
  • Your injuries caused you to suffer damages. You must show that the negligent actions of the doctor caused injuries leading to physical, emotional, or financial damages. Damages can take the form of medical bills, physical pain and suffering, emotional anguish, or lost wages as a result of the injury.
When a surgical error occurs, the surgeon and hospital may be liable for medical malpractice. If you experienced an error during surgery, contact the Phoenix surgical errors attorneys at Knapp & Roberts today for a free consultation.

What Surgical Errors Are Medical Malpractice?

As with other types of medical mistakes, surgical errors do not necessarily constitute medical malpractice. First, you must determine whether the surgeon failed to meet the standard of care. In the case of most surgeries, the standard of care is very specific and any deviation from the usual surgical procedure likely fails to meet the expected standard of care.

However, surgical errors failing to meet the standard of care must also cause you harm to constitute medical malpractice. Consider the following surgical errors and the potential they hold to cause harm to patients:

  • Inadvertent nerve, organ, and tissue damage. Damage to previously unaffected tissues near the surgical site can result in injury and long-lasting pain to the patient.
  • Cross-contamination and infection. Cross-contamination occurs when a surgeon uses an unsanitary medical instrument or contaminates the surgical field with unsanitary hands. Infections resulting from cross-contamination can be severe and even fatal for immunocompromised individuals.
  • Wrong site surgeries and incision mistakes. Incision mistakes can range from small incisions in the wrong place to entire surgical procedures performed on the wrong limb or the wrong organ. The healthy area suffers damage from the unnecessary procedure while the correct target does not receive the medical attention needed.
  • Wrong person surgeries. Sometimes, due to chart mix-ups and other mistakes, surgeons perform procedures on the wrong person. Malpractice depends on the original source of the error.
  • Forgotten instruments. A common surgical error involves a surgeon or other medical professional inadvertently leaving a surgical tool or piece of medical equipment in the body cavity. Such errors can lead to infections.

When to call Knapp & Roberts

We are accustomed to handling difficult malpractice cases and are familiar with medical terminology, procedures, and standards of practice. We maintain relationships with well-respected physicians who are available to provide expert medical testimony to help prove your case, and who are deeply committed to improving safety standards by holding incompetent, negligent, and careless medical professionals accountable when they injure patients in the course of surgery or other medical procedures.

Legal time limits in Arizona restrict the window of opportunity to file a civil malpractice charges; so don’t delay. Call our personal injury lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona to review your claim free of charge. (480) 991-7677.

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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.