Lupetin and Unatin have many years of experience handling medical malpractice lawsuits arising from surgical errors. Everybody knows there are risks associated with surgery. But signing a form that says you agree to assume the risks of surgery does not give your surgeon a blank check if something goes wrong.
If you or a loved one are suffering after a mistake made by a surgeon, a Pittsburgh surgical errors lawyer could be able to help. Our dedicated medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience separating unavoidable complications or risks from injuries caused by careless or negligent surgeons.
The Legal Standard of Care 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 by a skilled surgical errors attorney in Pittsburgh.
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 to 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.
The duty to take all necessary precautions to protect a surgical patient often continues after surgery. Depending on the length and type of surgery, many patients may be at increased risk of developing dangerous blood clots in the veins of their legs due to prolonged immobilization. These blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis can travel from the veins of the legs to the major arteries of the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism. Surgeons are expected to know when their patients are at risk of developing a pulmonary embolus and order treatment to prevent clots from forming in the deep veins of the legs. This treatment includes anticoagulation medications or placement of devices that compress the veins of the leg to prevent the formation of clots in bedridden patients.
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.
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.
Types of Surgical Errors
The lawyers of Lupetin & Unatin have successfully handled cases involving the following types of surgical errors:
- Using excessive force when placing cages or hardware within the spine
- Misplacing cages into the spinal cord
- Failure to use neurological monitoring to prevent unnoticed injury during brain or spine surgery
- Failure to communicate with anesthesia regarding dangerous changes in blood pressure or heart rate
- Failure to fully and properly dissect critical structures that need to be protected or cleared before a surgeon can cut something inside the body
- Positioning errors which result in stretching or compression of nerves such as those of the brachial plexus or the femoral nerve
- Failure to identify nerves and protect them from harm related to dissection, stretching, or cutting
- Failure to recognize nerve injury after surgery and promptly repair the injury
- Leaving sponges or surgical instruments inside the body
- Operating on the wrong part of the body or the wrong side of the body
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.
Get in Touch with a Pittsburgh Surgical Errors Attorney Today
If your life was turned upside down after a surgery that was intended to help, not to hurt, reach out to a Pittsburgh surgical errors lawyer at Lupetin and Unatin. Our knowledgeable team can help you understand whether injuries arising from surgery were related to a bad outcome or a bad surgeon. We will help you answer the question of whether or not your surgeon made an inexcusable error and failed to protect you from harm during surgery. Give us a call today to get started.