Dangers Patients Face in the Operating Room
Undergoing any type of surgery is a stressful and anxious experience. A positive outcome is never guaranteed, and a variety of things can go wrong and are completely out of the patient’s control. While surgery does involve some amount of inherent risk, doctors and hospitals still have a legal responsibility to put safeguards in place so that the risk to the patient is reasonable and within an acceptable range. If a patient was injured because protocol was ignored, or a doctor failed to employ the proper standard of care in his/her approach or conduct during the surgical procedure, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be needed to recover just compensation. Mistakes in operating rooms can have deadly consequences, and beyond the dangers presented by surgical errors, many hands are involved in maintaining the equipment used in the procedure itself, which could be malfunctioning or improperly sanitized. Surgical patients across the country face these risks, and a lawmaker in Wisconsin is calling for a law that would permit patients to request hospitals provide audio and/or video recordings of their procedures. The aim is to identify evidence of human error, but recordings could also clear doctors of alleged wrongdoing. A discussion of common causes of injury from surgical procedures that could indicate medical malpractice occurred will follow below.
As advancements in medical technology allow doctors to perform ever more delicate and complicated surgeries, the equipment used to accomplish these procedures is extremely complex and increasingly smaller in size. The sterilization of surgical instruments is often left to hourly workers with no medical training or thorough understanding of the rigid protocol this process needs to ensure it is effective. Further, these workers are often under pressure to clean equipment as quickly as possible, which can lead to shortcuts to keep up with demand. Failure to properly clean equipment can lead to the use of contaminated instruments on patients who then contract deadly infections.
In addition to issues with the sterility of surgical instruments, there may be problems with the surgical procedure itself that doctors could have avoided entirely if proper care was taken. Operating on the wrong site, performing the wrong procedure, or leaving foreign objects inside a patient are examples of just some of the errors doctors and staff can make during surgery. Safety and quality of care issues are most often responsible for surgical errors and the consequent medical malpractice claims, and include:
- anesthesia complications – allergic reactions or susceptibility to adverse reactions;
- blood clots following surgery;
- post-operative patient care – lack of sufficient monitoring for infections and over-prescribing painkillers; and
- pre-operative patient care – not delaying elective surgery with high-risk patients.
Finally, infections are another concern that surgical patients face. Given the number of ill patients that populate hospitals generally, any patient will encounter a much greater variety and more virulent causes of infection than the average person comes across in daily life. Surgery lowers the immune system of the patient as the body fights to recover from the trauma of the procedure. Unless the medical facility properly sterilizes the environment and takes care when following health and safety protocol, patients may be unnecessarily exposed to the risk of contracting secondary infections. Further, surgical sites are also susceptible to infection if proper post-operative wound care is not followed or if the operation was performed incorrectly. In any of the situations described above, a medical malpractice claim may exist, and an experienced medical malpractice attorney can provide the representation needed to get just compensation.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
We need to trust our doctors, but when that trust is broken, and an injury occurs, those same medical providers need to be held accountable. The attorneys at the Miami law firm of Pita Weber Del Prado understand your frustration, and we are ready to answer all your questions about filing a medical malpractice claim. Contact us to receive a free consultation.