Surgical Malpractice Lawyers
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If you or a loved one has experienced an injury caused by a surgical error, Belt & Bruner, P.C can help you determine whether you may be able to seek compensation for your losses. Our surgical malpractice lawyers have recovered more than $1 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of individuals injured by the negligence of medical providers and healthcare facilities and we always fight for the maximum compensation possible for our clients. Call us today at 205-933-1500 to find out how we can help.
Having to undergo surgery is always unnerving, but you expect that your condition will improve as a result of the procedure. However, surgery errors do occur and those mistakes can lead to greater injury or even death. In fact, it may surprise many people to learn that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death United States and more than 4,000 preventable mistakes occur in surgery every year.
Causes of Surgical Errors
Research regarding patient safety and medical errors has shown that one-half to two-thirds of adverse inpatient events occur during surgical care. Furthermore, a recent analysis of medical malpractice claims involving surgical errors revealed those most adverse events are preventable and can largely be attributed to a combination of human and systems failures.
The factors that commonly contributed to surgical errors include, but are not limited to:
- Surgeon inexperience
- Lack of technical knowledge or competence
- Failure to establish clear lines of responsibility
- Inadequate hospital systems
- Lack of appropriate supervision of trainees
- Poor communication among hospital staff, especially during hand-offs
- Distraction or overconfident among healthcare providers
- Excessive workload or fatigue
- Malfunction of equipment or technology
- Inadequate staffing
- Failure to follow patient safety protocols
Surgical Never Events
The term “never events” refers to particularly egregious surgical errors that should never happen to a patient and are entirely preventable. The four main types of never events are wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient surgeries, and leaving a foreign object inside a patient. Not only can the occurrence of a surgical never event result in catastrophic injury to the patient, it indicates a lapse in a hospital’s patient safety protocols and culture.
The Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, and Wrong Person Surgery was published by The Joint Commission in 2003 and it has been widely adopted by hospitals across the United States. The protocol is designed to prevent never events through a pre-procedure verification process, marking the correct operative site, and performing a timeout before beginning the surgery.
Despite the widespread implementation of the protocol, surgical never events continue to occur at alarming rates. A 2012 study by Johns Hopkins revealed that around 80,000 never events occurred in American health care facilities between 1990 and 2010. Of the 80,000 never events, 6.6 resulted in death, 32.9 percent resulted in permanent injury, and 59.2 percent resulted in temporary injury.
The study also looked at malpractice claims that arose due to surgical never events and found that payments for these errors totaled $1.3 billion. The researchers from the study reported that they believe their estimates regarding the incidence of surgical never events are likely on the low side.
Common Types of Surgical Errors
Surgery does not just refer to the procedure itself, but the medical care that is provided immediately before and after. This includes everything from the administration of anesthesia in preparation for surgery to the post-operative care the patient receives while still recovering in the hospital. Surgical errors can occur during any stage of preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative care.
Some of the most common types of surgical errors include:
- Performing an operation on the wrong site
- Performing the wrong procedure on a patient
- Leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body
- Performing an operation on the wrong patient
- Administering too much or too little anesthesia
- Defective medical devices
- Medication administration errors
- Incorrect dosing of post-operative medication
- Delay in responding to surgical complications
- Failure to monitor vital signs
- Failure to provide a timely and appropriate operation
- Failure to perform proper preoperative testing
- Substandard post-operative care leading to infection or hemorrhage
- Contamination of surgical equipment
- Nerve or organ damage due to technical errors
How the Surgical Malpractice Lawyers From Belt & Bruner Can Help
As a patient, you trust that your medical providers will look out for your safety and well-being. When you are injured because a health care professional or hospital fails to provide the established standard of care, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries through a medical malpractice claim.
At Belt & Bruner, P.C., our surgical malpractice lawyers have handled virtually every type of medical malpractice claim, including harm resulting from surgical errors. We have helped countless individuals throughout Alabama hold providers accountable for negligent surgical mistakes and obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of a medical provider, contact our medical malpractice lawyers today at 205-933-1500 for a free consultation. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel anywhere in the state of Alabama to investigate your case.