What is a Surgical Injury and How Does it Happen?

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Jan V. Hinson with Tilton & Tilton LLP.

What is a Surgical Injury and How Does it Happen?
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Surgical injury is exactly what it sounds like; when an error occurs during surgery and the victim suffers a new or worsened injury as a result, this may constitute medical malpractice in the form of a surgical injury. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or facility does not exercise a proper standard of care, which results in the serious injury or wrongful death of a patient. According to Johns Hopkins, on average over 4,000 people every year are injured due to preventable surgical errors.

That said, most surgeons are highly-trained individuals devoted to the health and wellbeing of their patients; in some cases, a surgery may simply not result in the desired outcome, which may or may not constitute a surgical injury. However, if you suspect your surgical injury was the result of negligent or substandard care on the part of one or more healthcare professionals, it’s a good idea to talk to a medical malpractice attorney about your options for physical and financial recovery.

Some of the most common surgical errors resulting in injuries include:

  • Wrong-site surgery
  • Wrong surgery performed
  • Surgery performed on the wrong patient
  • Retained surgical bodies (RSB) (i.e. items left in the body after surgery)
  • Incorrectly transfusing blood
  • Using non-sterile instruments 
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Severing or damaging a nerve
  • Severing or damaging an organ or other body part by mistake
  • Anesthesia errors

Each of these errors can seriously impact a patient’s treatment and recovery process, often requiring additional time off work and higher medical bills, not to mention the pain associated with the initial surgery as well as any reparative surgery the patient will need as a result. 

This is why it is so important to explore every avenue for physical and financial recovery following a surgical injury, from health insurance and support resources to filing a medical malpractice claim if the injury occurred due to negligence, as many of the above errors do.

There are many factors that can cause or contribute to surgical injuries, including:

  • Understaffing
  • Fatigue
  • A surgeon under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Poor communication between medical staff
  • Medication errors
  • Failing to thoroughly assess the patient’s medical history
  • Inattention
  • Incompetent care

A medical malpractice claim can answer for a myriad of damages.

In a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, the injured patient and their family can seek compensation for a wide variety of damages caused by the injury. For example, compensation for medical bills and lost wages is just the start; it may also be possible to seek compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and even life care expenses—especially if the surgical injury is likely to have long-term or even permanent effects on the victim’s life and livelihood. 

These and other unique damages can quickly be identified and documented with the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney who knows what to look for and has seen similar cases in the past. If talking to a lawyer seems financially out of the question, it may help to note that most medical malpractice attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t have to pay them unless and until they win their case.

To learn more about surgical injury and how it happens, or for help filing a claim, reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in your area.

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