Who Might Be Liable In A Surgical Error Lawsuit

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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 proving that a surgeon is responsible for an injury that occurred during surgery, you must show that the surgeon failed to use the care, skill, or knowledge that would be expected from other surgeons under similar circumstances. A knowledgeable attorney can take the lead in investigating liability in Pittsburgh surgical error cases, identify the negligent parties and gather evidence that establishes their fault. 

Determining Liability

When it comes to determining the at-fault party in a surgical error case, a negligent surgeon might seem like the obvious answer. However, if a hospital employed the surgeon at the time of the care in question, one could also sue the hospital.   A hospital may be held liable for the negligence of a surgeon who was not employed by the hospital if evidence shows surgeon was the hospital’s “ostensible agent”.  The question about whether or not a surgeon was acting as the ostensible agent of the hospital comes down to whether the patient looked to the hospital rather than just the surgeon for care or whether the hospital held the surgeon out as part of its staff.  Usually, a surgeon is not considered an ostensible agent of the hospital if a primary care provider or another person referred the patient to the surgeon.

If the patient was evaluated preoperatively by the surgeon in the surgeon’s office, then it is less likely that an attorney could prove the surgeon was the ostensible agent of the hospital. Because the patient visited the surgeon in the outpatient setting before the surgery, it is fair for them to expect the surgeon and the hospital are separate entities. A seasoned Pittsburgh attorney can provide more guidance on who might be liable in a specific surgical error case.

A hospital could also be liable for a surgical error if a nurse or other staff member who assists the surgeon such as a physician assistant contributed to the surgical error and the injury or harm that the patient suffered.  Still, in most cases the surgeon is responsible to oversee and supervise care provided by nurses or other lower-level staff members who participate in the patient’s care in the operating room.

Establishing Liability For A Surgical Mistake

In proving medical negligence, one must present evidence that the surgeon or the surgical staff failed to take appropriate measures to protect the patient during surgery. The injured party must rely on evidence within the medical records to show that certain steps, which should have been taken to protect the patient from harm, were not taken or that problems were overlooked or not diagnosed in a timely manner.

A Pittsburgh attorney can secure all medical records, diagnostic studies like X-ray images, and background information about a surgeon to determine whether there is a significant chance of proving a surgical error that will give rise to a medical malpractice case.

Consent Forms And Surgical Error Liability In Pittsburgh

Some people worry that signing a consent form before surgery will prevent them from being able to take legal action in the future if something goes wrong during a procedure. As a skilled attorney at Lupetin and Unatin could explain, signing a surgical consent form should not present an obstacle to filing a lawsuit for surgical mistakes. By signing a consent form, a patient acknowledges they understand there are certain risks involved with a particular surgery, but they do not consent to negligence.

When a patient signs a surgical consent form, it does not relieve the surgeon of the responsibility of performing the surgery with the utmost care and in accordance with the standards that are established in their profession for that particular surgery. Under Pennsylvania law, the fact that a patient signed a consent form or understood a particular risk, including the risk of the injury they suffered, is generally not admissible in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Discuss Liability In Surgical Error Cases With An Attorney

Proving that a provider acted negligently is a crucial part of your malpractice case. Establishing liability in Pittsburgh surgical error cases requires a thorough understanding of the law, which is why it is essential that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your injuries. Our dedicated attorneys at Lupetin and Unatin are ready to get to work for you, pursuing the compensation you deserve for the losses you should not have had to endure. Give us a call today to get started– your initial consultation is free.

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