By their very nature, surgical procedures carry with them some degree of risk. For this reason, a patient is required to be informed of the potential risks and complications before consenting to surgery. What patients should not have to worry about, however, are preventable surgical errors. Unfortunately, surgical errors occur far more often than people realize and can cause life-threatening injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardship for a victim.
If you were injured by a surgical error in an Orlando emergency room, or you lost a family member because of what you believe was a surgical error, you may be entitled to compensation. The Orlando surgical error attorneys at Bailey Fisher PLLC have the experience and resources to help you navigate the medical malpractice litigation process, and we are dedicated to making sure you are fully and fairly compensated for your injuries or loss.
How Often Do Surgical Errors Occur?
When you seek treatment in an emergency room you place your trust in the medical professionals providing that treatment. If surgery is required, you trust that the surgery will be performed free from preventable errors. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), however, preventable surgical errors do occur at a surprising rate. Medical errors (of all types) that happen in hospitals and clinics result in approximately 100,000 people dying each year. Surgical errors alone account for at least 4,000 preventable medical errors each year in the United States. Not surprisingly, most malpractice claims resulting from errors occurring in a hospital are related to surgical errors, according to the NCBI report.
Types of Surgical Errors in an Emergency Room
A hospital emergency room is often a high-stress and constantly changing environment. Diagnosis and treatment decisions must often be made with a sense of urgency to prevent further harm or illness. These conditions can heighten the risk of a medical error occurring at any stage of treatment. Common types of emergency room surgical errors include:
- Operating on the wrong site
- Operating on the wrong patient
- Performing the wrong surgical procedure
- Failing to respond to complications during surgery and post-operatively in a timely manner.
- Giving too much or too little anesthesia
- Failing to identify dangerous drug interactions or allergic reactions
- Failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs during or immediately following surgery
- Leaving foreign objects inside a patient
- Infection following the surgery
A surgical error can occur under an endless number of complex conditions and may happen for numerous reasons. According to the NCBI report, common causes of preventable surgical errors include:
- Lack of adequate surgeon training and education
- Absence of standardized rules and regulations
- A major gap in communication between the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and other ancillary staff
- A gap in communication between the surgeon and the patient
- Use of unreliable systems or protocols
- Rush to complete cases
- Human factors
When Is a Surgical Error Medical Malpractice?
All medical professionals, including surgeons, are human and do make mistakes. Because of their training and experience, however, they are held to a higher standard when a mistake does happen. A “mistake” rises to the level of medical malpractice if a surgeon (or other health care professional) violated the applicable standard of care and that violation caused or contributed to the “mistake.” Florida Statute 766.102(1) defines the standard of care for health care providers as “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” In other words, would another surgeon (or other health care provider) with the same education and experience have done the same thing given the same set of circumstances? If the answer is “no” it may be medical malpractice. One of the many difficult aspects of a medical malpractice lawsuit is that proving a medical professional violated the standard of care requires another similarly credentialed health care professional to provide expert testimony.
However, surgical errors occurring in the Emergency Room, or within a reasonable time after the patient is stabilized in the Emergency Room, may involve different rules, and a different statutory standard of care. Florida Statute 768.13(1)(b) provides that actions for providing, or failing to provide, medical care and treatment under certain emergency circumstances prior to the time the patient is stabilized and is capable of receiving medical treatment as a nonemergency patient require a showing of “reckless disregard” on the part of emergency health care providers in order to hold them legally liable. Reckless disregard in this context is defined by the statute as “conduct that a health care provider knew or should have known, at the time such services were rendered, created an unreasonable risk of injury so as to affect the life or health of another, and such risk was substantially greater than that which is necessary to make the conduct negligent.”
Navigating a Florida Surgical Error Lawsuit
Medical malpractice lawsuits in general are typically both factually and practically complex in nature. A lawsuit based on a surgical error that occurred in an emergency room can be even more complicated because of the urgent nature of the situation leading up to the surgery and the increased likelihood of multiple defendants. Moreover, victims of a surgical error only have two years from the date on which they discovered or should have discovered the medical error to initiate a lawsuit. For all these reasons, contacting an experienced Orlando medical malpractice attorney as soon as you suspect that you are the victim of a surgical error is crucial to successfully recovering monetary damages for your injuries.
You may be entitled to compensation for both economic and non-economic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Economic damages are things such as your medical bills and lost wages while non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you experienced because of the delayed diagnosis. If you lost a family member because of a surgical error, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages for things such as the lost earnings of the decedent, loss of companionship, and emotional pain and suffering you experienced.
Contact Orlando Surgical Error Attorneys Today
If you or a family member were the victims of a surgical error in an Orlando emergency room, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Having an experienced Orlando medical malpractice attorney on your side is crucial to navigating the complex judicial system and ensuring that the responsible parties are held accountable. At Bailey Fisher, we are committed to aggressively advocating on behalf of victims and surviving family members injured because of a surgical error.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Orlando surgical error attorneys will evaluate your case for free and advise you on the next steps.