When someone consents to a surgical procedure, they should be informed of all potential risks, ranging from the most common and mild risks to the most rare and serious risks. When a surgeon or medical professional makes a mistake, however, they put their patient at additional risk of injury. So, can you sue for surgery complications?
Surgical errors can be life-altering and even life-threatening. If a negligent medical professional has injured you, it’s important to hire an experienced lawyer to help you recover financial compensation. The Southfield medical malpractice attorneys at Lipton Law are willing to go the extra mile to ensure you receive justice. Call us at (248) 557-1688 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team today.
What Is Surgical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional fails to provide their patient with a reasonable level of care. In a surgical setting, this can include thoroughly reviewing the patient’s medical history, administering the correct amount of anesthesia, and performing the surgery on the right part of the patient’s body.
When Can You Sue for Surgical Malpractice in Michigan?
A patient could file a medical malpractice lawsuit if their doctor or other healthcare provider failed to provide them with the proper standard of care. The medical standard of care is established by evaluating what certain medical professionals would be expected to do and know in a given situation based on their skills and level of expertise. It helps decide what a reasonably prudent surgeon would do in a specific situation.
For example, a reasonable surgeon would be expected to remove all surgical tools from their patient’s body before stitching the patient up. If a doctor leaves a surgical instrument inside the body of their patient, they could be considered negligent and could be held liable in a medical malpractice claim.
It’s important to note that not all failed surgeries result from surgical negligence. If the surgical procedure was done correctly but was unsuccessful, the patient may not be able to sue for damages. However, suppose the failed surgery was, in fact, the result of a medical error. In that case, the victim may receive financial compensation for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
Types of Surgical Complications
All surgeries come with risks and potential complications, many of which are largely unpreventable. Even when medical professionals do everything right, their patients could still suffer from certain surgical complications. Some of the most common complications include:
- Pain and swelling around the incision site
Anesthesia is a key factor in many surgical procedures, but it also comes with its own risks. Some patients can be allergic to anesthetics, which doctors may have no way of predicting. Some may suffer from other adverse reactions to anesthesia, including postoperative delirium, malignant hyperthermia, and breathing problems. While these may not result from a preventable error, if a doctor fails to evaluate their patient’s medical history, they can put their patient at a higher risk of injury.
Infection of Surgical Sites
A surgical site infection (SSI) is an infection that occurs in the part of the body where the surgery was performed and/or around the surgical incision site. When doctors and nurses fail to take the proper precautions in the operating room, they can expose their patients to bacteria, which can cause infection in their skin, soft tissues, and/or internal organs.
Symptoms of an Infected Surgical Site
Surgical site infections can be internal as well as external, which can make it difficult to tell when an incision is infected. Some of the most common SSI symptoms include:
- Bleeding from the surgical site
- Redness or discoloration near the surgical site
- Pain or swelling in the feet or legs
If a patient experiences any of these symptoms following their surgery, they should seek additional medical attention as soon as possible.
What Surgical Errors Most Commonly Lead to Lawsuits?
When doctors and other medical staff make a preventable mistake while performing their professional duties and injure their patient, that injured patient can file suit. Below are some of the most common surgical errors that can lead to lawsuits.
Failure to Warn of Potential Surgery Complications
Doctors are required to warn their patients of all of the potential surgical complications that they may experience. If a doctor fails to provide their patient with the proper information about their procedure, that patient cannot give informed consent to receive that form of medical treatment. If that patient then experiences one or more of those complications, they can sue for medical malpractice.
While certain anesthesia complications can be unavoidable, anesthesia errors are often completely avoidable. If an anesthetician fails to provide the patient with enough anesthetic, the patient could potentially be awake during the procedure, causing them to feel pain. Victims of anesthesia malpractice can also suffer from mental health issues like PTSD as a result of the procedure, leaving them with both physical and emotional scars from the traumatic experience.
Retained Surgical Instruments
Patients can also file a medical malpractice lawsuit if their doctor fails to remove a surgical tool from their body after completing the procedure. Retained surgical instruments can cause internal injuries like a perforated bowel, and can require additional surgery to remove the instrument and repair the damage.
Surgeons often use markers to identify what body part they are operating on. However, if these marks are smudged, or if they are made on the wrong body part, they can very easily lead to surgical errors. If a surgeon failed to operate on the correct area, they could be found negligent and financially responsible for the victim’s losses, as well as any additional surgeries the patient would need to correct the mistake.
Wrong Surgical Procedure
Doctors can also perform the wrong procedure on their patients, which can cause them to suffer from additional surgical complications, all while not receiving treatment for their actual condition. This can be caused when operating rooms have a lot of scheduled surgeries back to back, which can lead to confusion. Regardless, this kind of error can qualify as negligence since a reasonable surgeon would have read the patient’s chart and performed the correct surgery.
Wrong Patient Surgery
In similar situations, surgeons and medical staff can mix up their patients and mistakenly perform surgery on the wrong patient altogether. This can be caused by picking up the wrong set of medical records or simply mistaking one patient for another. If a patient receives another person’s surgical procedure, they can file a surgical error lawsuit against the medical professionals responsible for their injuries.
What Compensation Can You Recover from a Surgical Complication Lawsuit?
If you have suffered from injuries due to a doctor’s error, you may be able to recover compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Some economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earnings due to permanent disability
- Funeral expenses, in the case of wrongful death
Some non-economic damages include:
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Michigan Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Victims of negligence have a limited window of time in which to file a claim and receive compensation, also known as the statute of limitations. The medical malpractice statute of limitations in Michigan is two years from the date of the injury or six months from the date they knew or should have known about the surgical error, whichever is later.
Contact a Southfield Medical Malpractice Attorney at Lipton Law Today
People usually only resort to surgery when their health and well-being require it. And they should be able to trust that they are in good hands. When surgeons and other healthcare professionals in the field fail to provide their patients with the minimum standard of care, their patients deserve justice.
If you have been injured due to a doctor’s negligence, call the legal team at Lipton Law. Our attorneys are experienced in handling medical malpractice claims and can help you recover financial compensation for your losses. Call (248) 557-1688 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation to discuss your medical malpractice claim.