Millions of surgeries take place in the United States each year, without incident. A significant number of patient adverse events are surgical. In fact, it has been reported that at least 4,000 preventable surgical errors happen in the United States each year. When a surgeon is negligent, it can cause severe injury or the death of the patient. Their time in the hospital may double, or triple, resulting in lost wages, the need for additional rehabilitation and astronomical medical costs.
All surgeries have inherent risks. Sometimes, bad things happen during surgery even if the surgeon is being careful. But many surgical errors are preventable and may be a basis of a medical malpractice case.
Types of Surgery Errors
Some surgery errors happen before the surgery even happens. These types of errors include:
- Picking the wrong surgery
- Not properly evaluating the patient as a surgery candidate
- Not administering proper pre-operative treatments or medications
Other surgery errors occur during the surgery itself:
- Injury to bowel or bladder during abdominal surgery resulting in infection
- Nerve injury
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Too much anesthesia
- Leaving foreign objects in the body
And some errors in surgical care happen after the surgery:
- Failing to timely diagnose and treat an anastomotic leak
- Failing to timely diagnose and treat a perforation
- Failing to timely diagnose and treat an infection
- Failing to take appropriate DVT prophylactic measures
- Administering too much pain medication
- Failing to identify respiratory distress
Our client, Karl Thomsen, was a victim of these types of surgery errors. We were so honored to represent him, and then his family, and win his case at trial (the first win for a Plaintiff in Grand Traverse County in almost 30 years). Karl was a long-time hospital employee. He chose to sue his surgeon after watching the medical care that was being provided go downhill. Karl wanted to shed light on the poor quality of care that we being delivered in Grand Traverse County, in hopes that the quality of care would improve for all patients. We share that hope with every medical malpractice lawsuit that we file.
Common Reasons for Surgical Errors
There are a variety of factors that can differentiate a recognized risk of surgery from a negligent error. These can include:
- Failure to properly identify anatomy
- Miscommunication between surgeons and staff
- Letting the patient make doctor decisions
- A “surgeon is always right” attitude
- Incomplete or poor pre-operative assessment
- Lack of staffing
And some surgeons are just not good surgeons. There is one repeat offender that has been sued nine times. In cases like that, we also look at whether the hospital was negligent in hiring or credentialing the surgeon.
Damages From Surgical Errors
Recoverable damages is case specific. If a patient dies because of a surgical error, his or her loved ones may be entitled to money damages for loss of the patient’s financial support as well as money damages for their emotional loss through a wrongful death action. If the patient lives, but requires additional surgeries and medical care, he or she may be entitled to money damages for lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, past and future medical care.
Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one suffered a surgical error due to medical malpractice in Michigan, it is important to explore your legal rights. Hoffer & Sheremet, PLC has a network of professionals, including medical and financial experts, to assist you. Please contact us at 616.278.0888 to learn more about compensation to which you or a loved one may be entitled to or fill out our free consultation form.