Virginia Surgical Error Attorneys
Though you might not expect it, surgery mistakes occur at a high rate and are responsible for many of the adverse events that happen in hospitals. In fact, most medical malpractice claims in hospitals are for surgical errors, and at least 4,000 surgery mistakes happen in the U.S. each year. Unbelievable as it may seem, one of the most common surgical errors involves doctors performing surgery on the wrong body part. Not far behind are hemorrhaging lacerations from mistakes during robotic surgery.
Surgery mistakes can be serious and even deadly. They can lead to internal bleeding, organ damage, nerve damage and paralysis, organ failure and other life-threatening conditions. Often, the patient will need to undergo another surgery to repair mistakes made in the botched surgery or to conduct the correct operation that should have been performed the first time. If the planned surgery was for a critical or emergency medical condition, the patient’s position is particularly precarious, as going under the knife so soon after a previous surgery increases the risks of complications or adverse events.
At MichieHamlett, you’ll find a Virginia medical malpractice law firm with record-setting sizes and numbers of settlements and jury verdicts in Virginia personal injury matters. Surgery, like other medical treatments, is not guaranteed to be 100% safe and effective. If something goes wrong – if the surgery didn’t accomplish its purpose or if you came out worse off than you went in – it can be hard as a layperson to know whether your bad result was just bad luck or caused by a surgical mistake that could have and should have been prevented. No one at the hospital is likely to tell you what happened; you need to find out on your own with the help of a skilled and experienced Virginia surgical error attorney. Call the Virginia medical malpractice attorneys at MichieHamlett if you believe your operation was not performed with the proper level of skill and care. Our team investigates and litigates all forms of surgical errors in Virginia hospitals and outpatient surgery centers, including:
- Wrong-site surgery
- Delayed surgery
- Unnecessary surgery
- Retention of a foreign object inside the body
- Organ perforation or puncture
Why Do Surgical Errors Happen?
Not all surgery mistakes happen in the operating room. Surgical errors can occur before surgery (prepping the wrong patient or wrong body part), during surgery (accidentally nicking an organ or blood vessel), or after the operation (postoperative infections). Leading reasons for surgical mistakes include the following:
- Lack of training and education – Surgeons need years of supervised practice and training to perform this highly specialized medical practice, but training and education is not always adequate depending on the school or residency program
- Lack of communication between the surgeon, the anesthesiologist and other surgical staff
- Lack of communication between doctors, nurses and the patient
- Overbooked surgeons or operating rooms, leading to rushed procedures
- Lack of or inadequate hospital protocols and systems to prevent errors
- Human factors – staff are tired, distracted, incompetent, etc.
How Can Hospitals Prevent Surgical Errors From Occurring?
Perhaps the most tragic aspect of surgical errors is that they are so devastating in the harm they cause yet can be so easily prevented. Hospitals can easily implement simple, commonsense measures to prevent many of these mistakes from happening. It’s up to hospital administrators to come up with these protocols and also promote a safety culture where these procedures are practiced and enforced. Some of these measures include:
- Pause before surgery and double-check that you have the right patient, the right surgery, and the right body part on the correct side of the body. Confirm the patient’s identity and intended procedure before inducing anesthesia and again before making the first incision.
- Count all instruments before beginning the operation and again before leaving the OR, making sure all clamps and sponges are accounted for.
- Speak up if you see something wrong. Surgeons are often the smartest person in the room and they know it, but don’t let their ego or personality get in the way of questioning their performance when a patient’s health hangs in the balance.
- Remove distractions like personal cell phones and digital devices. These devices have no business in the operating room.
- Make sure all relevant x-rays and other imaging are at hand. Don’t rely on memory as to the specifics of the operation on the particular patient.
- Conduct a preoperative risk assessment to identify and manage patients who might be at risk of cardiac arrest or other complications during surgery.
- Ensure the presence of adequate, trained staff.
- Don’t overbook doctors or operating rooms, and don’t rush procedures.
- Be mindful of the time and don’t take any longer than necessary to complete the operation.
- Avoid using multiple surgeons to perform multiple procedures in one operation.
Call MichieHamlett After a Possible Surgical Error in a Virginia Hospital
If something went wrong during an operation and you aren’t comfortable with the explanation the hospital is giving you, it’s worthwhile to discuss the matter with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At MichieHamlett, we offer a no-cost, confidential consultation to listen to your concerns and let you how we think you should proceed. Call us at 434-951-7200 to discuss a possible surgical error at a Virginia hospital or surgery center.