Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice
We are all familiar with the horror stories of medical malpractice in Florida. Oftentimes, those newsworthy cases focus on surgeries that disfigure the patient or ruin their quality of life, but the truth is it is the smaller, less flashy surgical errors that are most common – and they can be equally as devastating to patient lives.
What is a Surgical Error?
A surgical error is any preventable mistake that occurs during a surgical procedure; this can include surgical preparation and post-procedure clean-up and recovery. Errors are more common than you may think and even if they are not life-threatening, they can be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Examples of common surgical errors include:
- Performing incorrect procedures. It is hard to believe, but we do occasionally hear stories of patients who had the wrong kidney removed or who underwent a procedure they were not scheduled to receive. This kind of gross negligence can be life-threatening and is grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Performing unnecessary surgery. Some surgeons use scare tactics to encourage unnecessary surgeries. This is very common in cancer cases, where patients will often agree to a surgery, even if they have a benign or low-risk tumor.
- Operating on the wrong patient. Unbelievable, but it does happen that surgeons operate on the wrong person! This is most likely to occur when the surgeon has never met the patient prior to surgery and does not know the patient’s history. Even though the procedure is explained and patients are asked to consent to the surgery that day, many don’t fully understand the procedure and consent under the assumption that the surgeon knows what he/she is talking about.
- Causing damage to other organs, nerves, or tissues during the surgical procedure.
- Anesthesia errors, such as administering too much or too little anesthesia.
- Using improperly sterilized instruments. Non-sterile instruments can cause deadly bacterial infections or transmit viruses.
- Leaving medical equipment and foreign objects inside the patient. This happens more than you may think – to as many as 6,000 patients each year. Sponges and gauze are the most commonly left object, though instruments have been known to show up inside patients too.
- Providing inadequate post-operative care, such as failure to recognize and treat surgical complications.
Surgical Errors Are Covered Under Florida’s Medical Malpractice Laws
Patients who have suffered an injury due to a surgical error are eligible to pursue legal recourse under Florida’s medical malpractice laws. The law allows victims to seek compensation from the surgeon or hospital’s liability insurance provider and/or file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Lawsuits must be filed within 2 years from the discovery of the injury or 4 years from the date that the malpractice occurred. Victims can sue for economic damages as well as pain and suffering or loss of function.
One fact that often stops patients from filing a medical malpractice claim in Florida is that the state does not require physicians, including surgeons, to carry medical malpractice insurance. However, that has never stopped The Beregovich Law Firm from pursuing a claim. We believe that victims deserve to have their story told and those dangerous surgeons are held accountable for their actions.
If you have been injured during a surgical procedure, contact The Beregovich Law Firm for a free consultation. We will listen to you, even if you have been turned away by other attorneys.
Call (800) 631-9009 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at either our Orlando or Miami office.