Every surgical procedure carries with it some element of risk. Before you go under anesthesia, your doctor will discuss the general risks of surgery and the specific risks involved in your procedure. Doctors do make mistakes despite their years of training and preparation, but just because a surgical procedure has an unfavorable outcome does not give rise to a cause of action for medical malpractice. For our purposes, we are referring to surgical mistakes which could have been prevented, and that were made because of the doctor’s incompetence or impairment.
What are some examples of surgical mistakes?
There are countless types of surgical errors that occur every day in hospitals and health care settings throughout the U.S. Some common examples include:
- Wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient errors (WSPEs)
- Incorrect incisions
- Leaving foreign objects inside of a body
- Nerve damage
- Internal organ damage
Wrong site surgeries, just like leaving a foreign object inside of a body, are often called “never events,” because they are never supposed to happen.
What are some common causes of surgical malpractice?
The Committee on Quality of Health Care in America estimates that 98,000 people die each year in the U.S. from medical mistakes that take place in hospitals, which is more than die from car accidents, breast cancer or AIDS. There are many different causes of surgical errors including the following:
- Lack of preparation
- Alcohol or drug impairment
- Unsanitary conditions
- Human error
What makes a surgical mistake medical malpractice?
There are accepted standards of care for the practice of medicine. When a doctor or another medical professional’s actions or failure to act violates the standard of care the consequences may be considered malpractice. There are several elements to a surgical malpractice claim which much be met for the claim to have the merit required for legal action:
- A doctor patient relationship
- The doctor’s action breached the accepted standard of care
- The breach was a direct or approximate cause of the patient’s injury
- The injury resulted in damages for the patient
To prove medical malpractice, your lawyer will engage the services of an expert medical witness who has training and experience in the same medical specialty and who can testify as to the accepted standard of care and what any other reasonable surgeon would have done given the same circumstances.
Surgical malpractice can be prevented when proper hospital, doctor, and medical staff protocols are followed. At McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC, our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys can handle complex medical malpractice cases. To speak with an experienced trial attorney, you are invited to call us at 803-327-7800 or use our contact form to make an appointment today.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood