Clients will often talk to me about a very large area of negligence that we refer to as surgical errors. Any medical specialty you can think of has a surgical specialty to go along with it. This is a vast area of the medical field. There are kidney surgeons, heart surgeons, back surgeons, foot surgeons, and the list goes on. There is a surgeon who deals with whatever the body part is; and as a result, the lawyers who look into the medical practice and questions any given surgical practice must be just as specialized as the kind of surgery that’s being tried.
Many of us have heard horror stories about a surgeon mistakenly cutting off the wrong limb. Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence. Surgeons, hospitals, and professional associations have created a protocol to specifically address the issue of making sure that the correct body part gets operated on. The procedure involves a nurse calling out and the Physician responding exactly which limb to make sure that the right body part is being operated on. I don’t expect to be getting too many of these cases and I hope that I never do.
Alternately, there are other kinds of surgery cases that do occur more frequently. One such case involves a surgeon wounding, cutting, or otherwise injuring a nearby part that is not the subject of the operation. When that happens, the defendant can and will claim this is a risk of the procedure and sometimes they may be correct. After all, depending on the body part that were talking about, things can be quite close together leaving little room. In some cases, small nicks might be understandable on the part of the surgeon. If that is the case and the surgeon knows it is something that may occur, then we would ask what steps, if any, did the surgeon take to avoid this harm. If they did not take adequate steps to avoid the harm that they knew could happen then that might be a viable case.
I think the best thing I can say about surgical errors in this regard is don’t jump to conclusions about whether you do or do not have a case. If you have a case that involves a surgery, I urge you to please call us and let us look into it to see if we can help you.
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