Surgical Error Malpractice Lawsuit
Surgical Error Lawsuit
On February 17, 2012, a surgical error lawsuit filed in a Chicago court resulted in $7.5 million award to the family of an Illinois man, who died following a robotic surgery on his spleen. A month prior to the judgment, a Clark County jury awarded $1.5 million to a 30-year-old woman who suffered from a permanent debilitating condition because of late surgery. About 12,000 patients die and millions others face medical conditions caused by surgical errors in the United States every year due to wrong surgery, surgical lapses leading to infection or removal of body parts, surgical error resulting in injury and death, delay in surgery, incorrect procedure, post-surgery medication errors, and surgical instruments left in the body during the procedure. According to a report by the Office of Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services, more than 80% of surgical error cases go unreported.
Surgical errors fall under medical malpractice, and victims have every right to seek justice. They are entitled to file surgical error lawsuits claiming damages for injuries caused due to surgical mistakes or failure of doctors or hospital staff to take complete medical care of patients they are operating on.
Surgical Error: Meaning and Types
Most of the surgical error lawsuits claim damages citing negligence by doctors during the operation, inadequate care by hospital staff, and wrong surgical procedure. A surgical error is a medical mistake caused on the operating table, leading to injuries to a patient that could have been prevented. The court judgments in various surgical error lawsuits have expanded the definition of surgery mistakes to include injuries caused due to medical negligence prior to and after an operation. One can sue a surgeon or hospital for,
- pre-operative surgical errors caused by failure to properly diagnose a medical condition requiring surgery and suggest the most effective procedure to be adopted. There are instances where wrong diagnosis or faulty pathology report resulted in unnecessary surgery of patients. Doctors preferring surgery to medication are also liable to be sued for wrong suggestion.
- surgical errors during the operation caused due to wrong surgical procedure, inexperienced doctors and staff, lack of attention, wrong organ removal, incorrect incisions, wrong site surgery, anesthesia error, use of faulty or unsterilized equipment, or instruments left inside the patient’s body.
- post-operative surgical injuries caused due to inadequate care by hospital, wrong medication, preventable infections, or inexperienced doctors, or improper handling of surgery requiring a patient to undergo surgery again.
Grounds for Filing Surgical Error Lawsuit
A patient undergoes a lot of physical and financial strain before and after a surgery. They suffer from further injuries and medical complications if the surgery goes wrong because of mistakes on the part of doctors or the hospital. The law of the land allows them or their family to file a surgical error lawsuit seeking punitive damages for those responsible for professional negligence and medical malpractice that resulted in the injury.
The following are some of the important grounds on which one can file a surgical error malpractice lawsuit.
- Injuries or unwarranted medical condition caused by surgery
- Operating on the wrong patient or wrong advise for surgery
- Surgery on the wrong part of the body
- Unnecessary or superfluous surgery
- Wrong procedure leading to injuries or complications
- Use of unsterilized equipment during surgery
- Inadequate monitoring of the patient after the surgery
- Surgical equipment left inside the body
- Puncturing of another organ during the surgery
- Failure to cure despite surgery
- Anesthesia errors
- Complications or infections after the surgery
- Medication errors
- Removal of body parts because of surgery
Compensation in Surgical Error Lawsuits
According to a report in the May 2009 issue of Medical Care, surgical error puts patients seven times more at the risk of death compared to those not injured during the surgery. Either the patients suffering due to mistakes during the surgery or their family members can file surgical error lawsuits seeking the following types of compensation:
- Punitive and exemplary damages
- Medical costs incurred on wrong surgery
- Future cost of medication for injuries
- Compensation for loss of job and physical suffering because surgery-induced injuries
- Financial compensation for expenditures incurred because of surgical error
- Compensation for psychological and emotional stress caused because of wrong surgery
Surgical Error Malpractice Lawsuit Examples
In 2010, Adventist Health paid $32 million to three dozen patients who suffered from surgical injuries due to fault of one of its doctors. In February 2012, a jury awarded $7.5 million to family of an Illinois man who died five years ago as his surgery had gone wrong. The 49-year-old victim underwent a routine robotic surgery to have his spleen removed in 2007. However, the robot system perforated his lower intestine located at a distance from the spot of the operation. The patient died two weeks later due to complications. A woman from New Albany secured $1.5 million in damages in January 2012 in another surgical error made nine years ago.
In January 2011, a 41-year-old Florida woman won $23 million compensation in a surgical error lawsuit filed against Shands Teaching Hospital, Florida University. The plaintiff had undergone a neurosurgery following discovery of an aneurysm in her brain. However, one of her arteries was mistakenly punctured during the surgery resulting in stroke, bleeding, one-side paralysis, impaired vision, and brain damage. A Burtonsville woman filed a surgical error lawsuit against an Ellicott City doctor in September 2011 seeking $30,000 in damages for wrong surgery. The lawsuit alleges that the doctor removed the right ovary of the plaintiff while the operation was to take out a cyst developed in her left ovary.
In June 2011, a 60-year-old man received $1million in compensation from a surgical error lawsuit settlement. The plaintiff underwent robotic prostatectomy surgery following a lab report that he had prostate cancer. However, it was discovered after the surgery that there was no cancer cell in his body and his lab test samples were exchanged with another patient. He had sued both the clinic and the pathology lab.
In November 2009, a Carolina man, who had filed a surgical error lawsuit following his botched shoulder surgery at Steadman Hawkins Clinic, received $1.6 million in compensation. A Rhode Island Hospital was fined $150,000 in the same month after a patient filed a surgical error lawsuit claiming that surgeons had operated on his wrong finger. In August 2009, the parents of 16-year-old girl sued Cincinnati-based the Mayfield Clinic & Spine Institute, holding the hospital responsible for the death of their daughter. A botched surgery to check knotting of veins in the brain of the girl resulted in her death nine days later.
In May 2009, a Wisconsin court approved a surgical error lawsuit settlement awarding the parents of an 8-year-old girl $17.3 million. The girl, who operated on at Madison-based St. Mary’s Hospital, left brain damaged. The jury held improper use of a medical device as the cause of the debilitating injury. A month later, a West Virginia hospital paid $2 million to settle a surgical error lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of a victim who died following stomach perforation during a kidney lesion surgery.
In March 2009, a Kentucky jury ordered Three Rivers Medical Center to pay $2.5 million in to a woman, who filed a surgical error lawsuit claiming that doctors failed to remove lab sponge in her body during an operation in 2001. The medical mistake caused her to suffer from abdominal pain and constipation. She had to undergo another surgery to remove a section of her small intestine where the sponge was lodged.
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