Surgical Accidents & Mistakes
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Pittsburgh Surgical Accident Attorneys
During surgery there are many things that can go wrong. Many injuries that occur during surgical procedures will heal with little harm to patient if they are accurately diagnosed and treated immediately. When a medical malpractice case is based upon the idea that carelessness during surgery has resulted in injury to a patient there are many possible areas of concern. If you or a loved one has suffered grievous harm as a result of negligent actions during surgery, we urge you to contact our law firm for a free case evaluation.
Surgical Malpractice FAQ
There are legal standards of care that surgeons are held to.
Under Pennsylvania law, it is not considered medical malpractice if a surgery simply results in a bad outcome. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in medicine. During some medical malpractice trials involving surgical errors, judges may even instruct the jury that doctors do not and cannot guarantee a good outcome from surgery and that just because a patient has a bad outcome does not mean the doctor was negligent.
However, there are still situations in which surgeons can be held legally liable for mistakes they make during treatment. Like other doctors, surgeons are required to use reasonable care to avoid causing injury to patients during surgery. Reasonable care during surgery means a surgeon must use training and experience developed over many years to protect their patient from harm. Careful surgeons should also know and understand established techniques they need to use during surgery to prevent causing harm to their patients. A surgeon that does not use reasonable care in their treatment of a patient could be held legally and financially accountable for injuries they cause.
Standards Of Care
Surgeons may also have a duty to protect patients from harm before surgery even begins. For example, surgeons must be sure patients with pre-existing heart or lung conditions can endure the stress of surgery without an unacceptable risk of a respiratory or cardiac arrest. Surgeons should also understand whether their patients are taking medications which could lead to uncontrollable bleeding during surgery, such as anticoagulants or antiplatelet drugs. If so, surgeons should work with such patients and their personal physicians to decide upon the best strategy to protect the patient from harm, including holding the medication, substituting a safer alternative medication, or postponing the surgery if possible.
How Do Surgical Errors Usually Occur?
Many medical malpractice cases involving surgical errors involve unintended injuries to nerves, blood vessels, the spinal cord, or vital organs. Surgery involves the dissection of skin and subcutaneous tissues like fat and muscle. While using dissection to expose the area of the body where they intend to operate, surgeons must make sure they are cutting or dissecting the right parts of the body. Sensitive structures like nerves, the spinal cord, or even organs like the brain and intestines are prone to injury from scalpels, electrocautery devices, and surgical implants like staples, screws, and intervertebral cages.
Medical malpractice also occurs when surgeons fail to inspect for surgical injuries. Damage to blood vessels, nerves, or other structures can be repaired and injury avoided if the surgeon takes the time to double-check these structures are intact and free from an unnoticed or even unavoidable injury. However, in haste or oversight, some surgeons do not properly inspect the surgical field for injuries caused during surgery. In these cases, patients can develop life-threatening infections, bleeding, or other complications. The unnoticed injuries could result in further hospitalization, surgery, and in some cases, permanent disability or death.
Surgeons are trained to identify and protect nerves and other parts of the body which are known to be susceptible to injury during surgery. In other words, surgeons are required to know what parts of the body are at risk during a particular surgery and take proper measures to prevent injuries from these known risks.
Surgeons who fail to take proper protective measures could be held legally liable for injuries that result with the help of a knowledgeable Pittsburgh surgical errors attorney.
Our attorneys have successfully handled cases involving the following types of surgical errors:
Establishing liability is an essential part of a surgical malpractice case. To pursue compensation you deserve for your injuries, it is necessary to link the cause of your injuries to the actions or inactions of a careless surgeon or other health care provider.
In the operating room, the anesthesiologist has independent responsibility for evaluating and supporting cardiopulmonary function. Because of their monitoring functions, anesthesiologists, as a rule, document their activities contemporaneously and more thoroughly than any healthcare provider other than perhaps the critical care nurse.
An injury to the bile duct occurring during the course of a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which injury results in recurring problems with the potential for permanent liver damage should be considered a case of possible medical negligence until proven otherwise.