The Legal Standards Of Care That Surgeons Are Held To

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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. 

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