Serving Victims of Surgical Errors in New York City and the Surrounding Areas
Although there are inherent risks involved in any surgical procedure, patients have a right to receive proper care. Unfortunately, surgical errors are more common than many people realize. In fact, studies have shown that thousands of surgical errors, so-called “never events,” occur each year. If you or a loved one has been injured by a preventable surgical mistake, you may have a right to be compensated.
At Scaffidi & Associates, we have decades of experience handling medical malpractice cases arising from surgical errors in the greater New York area. Guided by a principle that no one should suffer because of a surgeon’s incompetence or negligence, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients. Our legal team is widely respected for providing our clients with aggressive legal representation and achieving successful outcomes.
What is a Surgical Error?
A surgical error is defined as a preventable mistake during surgery. It is important to note that an error does not necessarily mean that a surgeon committed malpractice. Instead, in order to be held liable for a patient’s injury, the surgeon, medical team, or hospital must have provided treatment that fell below the accepted medical standard of care.
In addition, because all surgeries involve risks, surgeons are required to inform patients of the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives to any surgery or medical procedure, and obtain the patient’s written permission to proceed. This is referred to as “informed consent.” A surgeon who fails to obtain the patient’s informed consent can be held liable for surgical errors that lead to injuries.
Common Surgical Errors
Although many associate serious surgeries with injuries, such as coronary bypass, tumor removals, and gastrointestinal procedures, the most common surgical errors include:
- Nerve Injuries – Surgical errors and anesthesia errors can lead to nerve damage. Because surgeons often operate close to nerves, surgical instruments can sever or cut nerves or cause inflammation. Similarly, nerve damage can result from the administration of general anesthesia if a patient is in a position that could lead to a pinched nerve.
- Anesthesia Errors – These surgical errors can result in serious injuries and fatalities. If a patient is given too much anesthesia, he or she may not receive sufficient oxygen, which can cause brain damage or result in death. If too little anesthesia is given, a patient might awaken during a surgical procedure and experience tremendous pain.
- Surgical Equipment Left Inside a Patient – Surgeons and medical teams frequently leave scalpels, clamps, sponges and other surgical equipment in patient’s bodies, which can cause extreme pain, severe infections, or even death. Surgeons are required to follow proper protocols, including a standard materials checklist, to prevent this from occurring.
- Wrong Body Part Surgery – These surgical errors are referred to as “wrong side” surgeries, which can lead to the removal of a healthy organ instead of a diseased one, or the amputation of the wrong limb.
- Wrong Patient Surgery – This surgical error can be caused by factors such as lack of preoperative verification or poor hospital protocol, which can lead to the removal of healthy organs or other injuries.
Reasons for Surgical Errors
Although each case is unique, some common reasons for surgical errors include:
- Incompetence – A surgeon may lack the skill or the experience necessary to perform the surgery successfully.
- Insufficient Preoperative Planning – A surgeon must be well prepared for surgery by reviewing and preparing for potential complications. The medical team, including nurses and assistants, should also prepare by making sure all the necessary equipment is ready and available as needed by the surgeon.
- Improper Procedures – A surgeon may take shortcuts by skipping certain steps during a surgery, which can have serious consequences.
- Poor Communication – Failing to properly communicate can lead to all types of surgical errors, such as marking the wrong site for surgery, or failing to make sure all surgical equipment is available. Medical teams may also miscommunicate about the proper dosage of a patient’s medication.
- Fatigue – Surgeons typically work long shifts during which they perform multiple operations, which can easily result in fatigue. Tired surgeons are more likely to make mistakes than those who are well-rested.
- Drugs/Alcohol – Although it comes as a surprise, some surgeons abuse drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, and even perform operations while under the influence.
- Neglect – Surgeons may fail to act with due care, whether by failing to ensure their instruments are properly sterilized, or using surgical equipment known to be outdated.
Surgical Error Malpractice Attorney
If you were injured by a surgeon who failed to provide the appropriate standard of care, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Nonetheless, these cases are complicated because of the inherent risks involved in all medical procedures, even minor surgeries. These cases can also be made more challenging if the surgeon complied with the rules regarding informed consent.
The legal team at Scaffidi & Associates will take the time to understand all the circumstances relative to your surgical procedure. By thoroughly reviewing the medical records, and relying on the testimony of medical experts, we will work tirelessly to demonstrate how the surgeon, medical team, or hospital was negligent.
Because medical professionals are typically required to carry malpractice insurance, these cases often involve negotiating a settlement with an insurer. We will leverage our legal knowledge and skill to ensure that you received the full value of your claim. If the insurer fails to make a reasonable offer, we are fully prepared to litigate the matter in court, as we have done so countless times in the past. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.