Medical malpractice refers to mistakes made by health care practitioners that can put patients’ lives at risk. A surgical error is a common type of medical malpractice that is among the leading causes of unnecessary patient deaths. If you or a loved one is a victim of a preventable surgical error in the Pittsburgh area, contact the Pittsburgh surgery malpractice attorneys at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C. for a free case review to discuss your legal rights.
Never Events: Wrong Site, Patient or Procedure
The most severe types of surgical errors are referred to as “never events.” In a properly functioning operating room, they should never occur. They refer to particularly alarming medical errors; namely, wrong-site, wrong-patient and wrong-procedure surgeries. Operating on the wrong person or body part can have disastrous consequences for a victim.
Never events can be prevented by implementing practices that ensure the correct patient and operation every time. This includes regularly training surgeons and staff to use the systems that a hospital has in place for verifying a patient’s identity and confirming the procedure being performed. Any issues of noncompliance should be properly documented and addressed.
Lack of Informed Consent
Every patient has the right to give his or her informed consent to a procedure before going under the knife. Informed consent means a medical professional has given a patient all the information he or she needs to make a knowledgeable decision about whether or not to receive the treatment. This includes all potential advantages, risks and alternatives to the procedure. If a doctor leaves out any pertinent information that the patient should have known before assuming the risks of an operation, this is a form of medical malpractice.
Foreign Objects Left Behind in a Patient
Operating on a patient involves dozens of surgical instruments, including scalpels, scissors, cotton pads, forceps, gauze and towels. Health care providers have a responsibility to account for every tool used during an operation. They should carefully count every instrument and item before and after the procedure to make sure nothing is left behind in the patient’s body. Leaving behind foreign objects can cause serious health complications, including blockages, internal bleeding and fatal infections.
If a surgical procedure requires general anesthesia, an anesthesiologist must take due care to create the correct mixture and dosage of anesthesia based on the patient’s weight, age and many other factors. If an anesthesiologist makes a careless or negligent mistake, a patient could receive too little or too much anesthesia. These errors can result in permanent brain damage, coma and death.
Other Surgical Errors
Not all surgical errors are extreme examples of medical malpractice, but all can result in serious harm to a patient. Surgeons must be competent and have the required amount of skill and training to perform a medical procedure. If a surgeon behaves in a way that a reasonable and prudent surgeon would not have in the same or similar circumstances, it is medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a surgical error of any kind in Pennsylvania, contact a Pittsburgh medical malpractice lawyer at Dallas W. Hartman, P.C.for a free case consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault surgeon or a hospital for medical malpractice.