When Can an Unnecessary Surgery Become a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In terms of physical trauma, not many experiences can approach surgery. From inducing a catatonic-like state through anesthetics to slicing an individual’s body open to remove or reconstruct a body part, it is no wonder that recovery even for minor surgeries takes a period multiple times longer than the surgery itself. Accordingly, surgery should always be approached with caution, and some people consider these procedures only as a last resort. This reticence may be justified when one considers the potential complications that can result from necessary surgeries, let alone those never needed in the first place. In instances of harm resulting from unnecessary surgeries, retaining an attorney experienced in medical malpractice may be required to receive compensation. Recently, a Kentucky woman filed a lawsuit against her physician for performing an unnecessary surgery that, as she claims, led to complications requiring a second surgery to fix. A discussion of unnecessary surgeries, and when it can possibly lead to a claim for medical malpractice, will follow below.
What is an Unnecessary Surgery?
As is the case with all medical malpractice actions in Florida, the focus is on whether a medical professional acted negligently, through his/her actions or his/her omissions. In the context of unnecessary surgery, the inquiry is not necessarily whether an error occurred during surgery, but whether the surgery itself was not in accordance with the specific standard of care that a representative medical professional in that medical specialty would possess.
With regard to unnecessary surgeries, it is important to realize that such a surgery is not automatically evidence of medical malpractice. As mentioned above, in many cases, especially when surgery is considered a treatment of last resort, many insist on jumping directly to that option. Thus, some of the more common unnecessary surgeries include coronary bypass surgeries, pacemaker implants, gastric bypass surgeries, hysterectomies, Caesarian sections, and surgeries for heartburn or irritable bowel syndrome.
If a medical professional performs a surgery that stems from a reasonable, medically-based concern, but the surgery turned out to be unnecessary, in most cases, the surgery probably does not constitute malpractice. To be malpractice, the medical professional must have been negligent in some way and the surgery must have caused long-term harm.
When Does an Unnecessary Surgery Become Medical Malpractice?
A medical professional who immediately recommends surgery instead of suggesting non-surgical options to a patient might be committing medical malpractice. Further, a medical professional who misdiagnoses a condition and then performs surgery may also be committing medical malpractice if, based on the evidence, other competent doctors would not have made the same mistake. In many cases like these, the medical professional performs the surgery because he/she has been trained to do so, because this is his/her normal course of conduct, or because he/she just does not know better.
Additionally, and unfortunately, there are some surgeries that are performed with malice, such as when a medical professional is incentivized to perform a surgery for either financial gain, notoriety, or both. This actually is part of the Kentucky woman’s claim in the cited article above – that the medical professional performed the surgery so that he can submit insurance claims for reimbursement.
Whether or not a patient has a viable case for medical malpractice depends on the facts of the particular situation. As shown here, because a surgery is later found to be unnecessary does not automatically mean it constituted medical malpractice. A medical malpractice attorney can assess when that line is crossed, and the doctor potentially responsible.
Seek Legal Advice
If you recently underwent a surgery which you believe was not necessary, contact the Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible to ascertain whether a legal claim of medical malpractice may be filed. We have the experience necessary to analyze your situation, and determine whether the medical professional’s course of action did not meet the appropriate standard of care. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.