The Different Kinds of Surgical Error: Possible Causes of Serious Complication, Permanent Disability or Untimely Death
Medical malpractice, which usually is due to medical error, is a frightening reality in the United States. It can result to life-threatening conditions, prolonged illness, permanent disability or even death. But equally frightening as its effects is the fact that these mistakes are totally preventable, as these are mere results of negligence or carelessness by medical experts – a failure to provide the quality care that patients rightly deserve. In 2010 alone, a report made by the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services spoke of the death of about 180,000 Medicare patients – a much smaller figure compared to the figure printed in the Journal of Patient Safety, which ranged between 210,000 and 440,000.
One example of medical malpractice which continues to cause patients great harm is surgical error. Surgery is usually the last treatment opted for by doctors if all attempts to remedy patients’ health complaints, including medication, fail. Though a sensitive and risky procedure, patients still choose to trust their doctor and the surgical team, knowing that they have been trained and have the capability to perform whatever is necessary to make them better. Thus, any mistake that may result from the surgery may be considered a violation of this trust and a grave failure to comply with the standard quality care that patients deserve.
Surgical errors are serious medical mistakes. Based from a list from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these mistakes may be: wrong-site surgery; wrong-person surgery; incorrect surgical procedure; improper suturing; accidental puncture or laceration; foreign bodies left inside a patient’s body; removal of wrong organ; complications of anesthesia; post-operative hemorrhage or hematoma, physiologic and metabolic derangement, respiratory failure, or pulmonary embolism; wound dehiscence (a surgical complication wherein a wound ruptures along a surgical suture. This can be due to age, obesity, diabetes, poor knotting, or post-surgery trauma due to the wound); and, wrongful death due to complications from negligent surgery.
Though preventable, the number of surgical errors goes beyond 4,000 every year. This explains the thousands of lawsuits filed against doctors and hospitals each year by injured surgery patients. Many hospitals and/or insurance companies will try to settle with injured patients and discourage them from ever filing a legal complaint due to the complexities of the legal procedure, besides the high fees that they will have to pay.
Accepting a settlement under such circumstances, according to the law firm, is not advised as there are many issues that a knowledgeable attorney can identify and use to obtain the amount of compensation that meets patients’ needs, not that of an insurance company.