Posted on 06/21/2021

What to Know Before Filing a Surgical Error Lawsuit

What to Know Before Filing a Surgical Error Lawsuit

If your doctor or healthcare professional makes a mistake with your medical treatment or care, it could significantly impact your life. 

But just because they made a mistake, it doesn’t necessarily mean medical malpractice occurred. To file a successful medical malpractice claim, you must be able to establish several key issues. Let’s look at them in detail below. 

What Is a Surgical Error Lawsuit?

A surgical error is when your doctor or other medical professional makes a preventable mistake during your surgery. These medical mistakes or surgical errors can result in wrong-site surgeries being performed, medical supplies or utensils being left inside a patient, or medical professionals that fail to respond appropriately to unexpected difficulties.

Surgical errors can occur as a result of surgeon, anesthesiologist, or hospital error or negligence. This can mean patients are left to deal with the pain and the growing financial burden of unanticipated medical bills arising from additional treatment or care, as well as other harm. 

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When surgical errors occur and patients experience preventable injuries, those responsible should be held accountable. A surgical error lawsuit allows patients or families of patients to seek appropriate compensation, including financial, for the injuries resulting from surgical errors.

Some examples of surgical error lawsuits include the following. 

  • Wrong-site surgery. Having surgery performed on the wrong body part, i.e., operating on your left hand when the right hand required surgery.
  • Wrong patient surgery. Having a surgeon operate on the wrong patient often results in the patient who did need the surgery going without the operation, causing additional harm or suffering.
  • Unnecessary surgery. Having surgery performed that was unnecessary and resulted in injury, pain, or other harm.
  • Anesthesia errors. Receiving too little anesthesia can result in patients waking up during surgical procedures; too much anesthesia can cause additional complications or fatalities. 
  • Surgical instruments. Failing to remove all surgical equipment or instruments used from a patient's body; leaving something inside the patient.
  • Internal injury. Damage to internal organs or nerves by a surgeon during the procedure, such as cutting or puncturing an organ not associated with the surgery.
  • Infection. Improperly cleaned or sanitized instruments or operating rooms can result in infection.

How To Prove Medical Malpractice

To successfully prove a surgical error lawsuit, you will need to meet the following requirements for medical malpractice. 

You had a relationship with the doctor or medical facility. You are required to show you had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor, medical staff, or facility.  

The healthcare professional or medical facility was negligent in their diagnosis or treatment of you. This is usually addressed by considering whether another medical professional or facility with a similar background and a comparable environment would have treated you in the same way. In other words, was the treatment you received reasonable for the situation.

You experienced pain or injury as a direct result of the negligence. You have to establish that it is "more likely than not" that your injury was the direct result of medical incompetence or negligence. 

The injury you experienced resulted in specific damages. These damages can include physical or mental pain and suffering, additional medical expenses, lost wages or reduced earning capacity. 

How To Prepare For The Lawsuit

To reach a successful outcome, you will need to establish that your injury resulted from negligent care. Every surgical error lawsuit is unique, but there are steps common to all medical malpractice lawsuits that you can take to help prepare.

Document Everything

Documents can help support your statements of injury or other suffering. Keep detailed notes about the surgical error and take photos. When it comes to a surgical error lawsuit, pictures really are worth a thousand words.

If you feel something has gone wrong with your surgery, take note of medical staff names, any relevant dates, and include your thoughts about what is happening. 

Photographic evidence can help improve your claim's chances of reaching a favorable outcome. Cases that rely solely on medical records, which can be more challenging for a jury to comprehend fully, can benefit from photos that draw attention to your pain and suffering. 

Don't Share Your Updates on Social Media

If you are considering a surgical error lawsuit, it's essential to keep this information away from the medical professionals or facilities in question — unless otherwise instructed by your medical malpractice attorney.

Understandably, you may want to reach out to family and friends on social media for support, but sharing a photo or comment could actually end up harming your claim.

Get Copies of Your Medical Records

All hospitals are legally required to keep patient health records for several years following treatment. 

A copy of your medical records, including any notes, prescriptions, or any other medical records, could help you illustrate medical negligence or a failure to provide appropriate care.

Be Careful of What You Sign

When you pick up your medical records, you might be asked to sign a waiver releasing the doctor or hospital from legal liability. It's important not to sign the waiver thereby signing away your right to sue. 

Because medical records are often requested by patients considering suing, many hospitals automatically ask patients to sign a waiver whenever they pick up copies of their medical records. 

Don't sign anything without first checking with your medical malpractice attorney. 

Act Quickly

Contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as you think something has gone wrong with your surgery. If you believe that something doesn't feel right, trust your instinct. 

Acting quickly is critical, especially when it comes to taking photos. Bruises and other visual signs of injury or harm can begin to fade in just a few days following the trauma.

Finding The Right Surgical Error Lawsuit Attorney

If you've suffered because of a surgical error, it can be tempting to reach out to the first medical malpractice attorney you find. 

While most attorneys have some experience with medical malpractice, surgical error lawsuits and medical malpractice are profoundly complex. An attorney who possesses only a general medical malpractice attorney may miss some of the more subtle aspects of your case. 

To put yourself and your case in the best position, look for experienced law firms specializing in medical malpractice. Check out websites or the local state bar association for a few names of top medical malpractice attorneys in your area. 

At Grover Lewis Johnson, we build on 25 years of medical malpractice expertise to help you get the proper compensation you deserve. By selecting our cases carefully, we ensure we exceed your expectations. 

Our Medical Malpractice Team is ready to review your situation carefully. We'll go through the information with you, explore all your options, and help you decide what your best course of action is. Call us today and schedule a free consultation.