Suing for Surgical Errors
Undergoing a surgical procedure can definitely take its toll on a person, both emotionally and physically. While obviously the body experiences trauma, the psyche of the patient undergoes a lot of stress as well. Wondering whether the anesthesia will work, to the worry of whether the surgery will be successful, are but a few of the strains on the mind of the patient. Fortunately, the quality of the medical industry in the United States means that, in most cases, these concerns will not manifest. However, in some cases, they do, and retaining the services of a medical malpractice attorney experienced in surgical error can be crucial to recovering for a patient’s loss. Recently, a nurse sued the hospital where she had worked for 20 years after a botched surgery in which the surgeons allegedly severed tubes critical for urinating. A discussion of medical malpractice generally, as well as some of the more common examples of surgical errors and potential legal remedies, will follow below.
Medical malpractice is a specific form of negligence that is applicable to medical practitioners. Specifically, medical malpractice looks at whether a medical practitioner failed in acting according to a standard of care applicable to his/her medical specialty. Consequently, to be successful for medical malpractice, the injured patient must prove the following:
- That the medical practitioner, in the case of surgical errors, the surgeon, anesthesiologist, attending nurse practitioner, or other individual involved in the surgery, had a standard of care, based on his/her specialty, he/she was obligated to follow;
- That the medical practitioner did not act in accordance with the standard of care;
- That the patient suffered an injury as a result of the medical practitioner’s breach of the standard of care; and
- That the injury suffered by the patient negatively impacted the patient, in either an emotional, physical, psychological, and/or financial manner.
Common Surgical Errors
Unfortunately, due to the nature of surgery, surgical errors can have dramatic consequences for the patient, such as chronic pain, shortened life expectancy, prevention of normal activities, or, unfortunately, death. Common surgical errors include the following:
- Pre-op mistakes, such as not attempting other remedies prior to resorting to surgery, or recommending surgery when the patient is not a good candidate;
- Surgery on the wrong part of the body;
- Surgical mistakes, including causing organ damage or nerve damage, leaving surgical instruments or other equipment in the body, contaminating the body during surgery, and improperly dosing anesthesia; and
- Post-op mistakes, including improper care which causes infection, or not setting forth an appropriate recovery plan.
Potential Legal Remedies
Although legal remedies are very case-specific, and will depend on the extent of the surgical error and the injury suffered by the plaintiff, the plaintiff, or their family, may be entitled to recover the following remedies, some monetary, some not:
- Medical bills, past, present, and future, to the extent it relates to the injury;
- Lost wages, past, present, and future, to the extent it relates to the injury;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disability expenses, such as living and transportation expenses;
- Therapy; or
- Loss of consortium.
Finally, it is important to note that Florida Law places a limit on intangible damages (e.g., loss of consortium) stemming from medical malpractice. This limit, which depends on the extent of the injury and damage, can range anywhere from $500,000 to $1,500,000.
Seek Legal Advice
If you, or someone you love, suffered an injury as a result of a surgical procedure, and are curious as to your options regarding holding someone responsible, contact the attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have experience in surgical error law, and will utilize this experience to review the facts of the case to determine whether a claim for medical malpractice can be made. If so, we will help devise the best strategy to ensure appropriate relief. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.