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NJ Attorney for Surgical Mistakes

operationThe process of surgery is incredibly complex, and even the most skilled surgeons can make occasional mistakes. However, mistakes such as performing the wrong type of surgery, operating on the wrong part of the body, or leaving surgical instruments and sponges inside a patient are completely preventable. A 2012 study showed that over 4,000 preventable surgical mistakes occurred in the United States every year, resulting in over $1.3 billion in medical malpractice payments. These are distressing figures, considering that there are stringent medical guidelines to prevent mistakes at every stage of a surgical procedure. In fact, these mistakes are referred to as “never events” by medical researchers because there is simply no reason for them to have occurred.

These figures are inevitably on the low end since they can only account for errors that are reported. The current law only requires physicians and hospitals to disclose surgical mistakes if they result in a malpractice settlement or judgment. Obtaining accurate figures is also difficult because many surgical errors are not discovered until a patient develops complications long after the procedure.

The Most Vulnerable to Surgical Mistakes

Although death is a rare consequence of surgical mistakes, almost 40% of patients still sustain permanent injuries. Patients between the ages of 40 and 49 are most vulnerable to surgical mistakes. Coincidentally, it is also this same age group of surgeons who are most likely to commit surgical errors, especially leaving surgical tools inside the patient. It is believed that surgeons in this age group feel secure enough to no longer make the mistakes of a new surgeon, yet are also young enough to not make the mistakes of an elderly surgeon. This attitude can sometimes create a feeling of over-confidence, which can easily lead to careless errors.

Ways to Prevent Surgical Mistakes

Procedures do vary among different hospitals, but there are methods that most facilities use to prevent “never events”. Mandatory “time-out” periods in the operating room give surgeons and surgical staff time to check medical records against the surgical plan and the patient’s status. Marking surgical sites with indelible ink, using checklists throughout the surgery and counting equipment before and after the procedure are also standard practice for U.S. hospitals. Technological advances in surgical equipment have been helpful as well. For example, some hospitals are using sponges with a radiofrequency tag that can be detected under a scanner. However, heavy reliance on technology can also lead to mistakes for complicated procedures such as heart and brain surgery.

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It is essential for hospitals to have a system for checking and testing surgical equipment in order to prevent mistakes due to faulty mechanics. There must also be ongoing training for surgeons and surgical nurses to make sure that they are using the equipment properly at all times. Rather than relying on technology, medical experts advise that the most important factor in preventing surgical mistakes is better communication and teamwork among surgical staff. After all, many mistakes are made simply due to lack of attention or communication.

Surgical Errors are Medical Malpractice

Without a doubt, most surgeons and nurses do provide excellent medical care to their patients. It is also expected that even the most skilled surgeon who has taken all the proper precautions can still make an honest mistake. However, when a medical professional is negligent, careless, or fails to administer a certain standard of care, it can result in a case of medical malpractice. From a legal point of view, medical malpractice is a specialized type of personal injury committed by any medical professional, ranging from doctors to pharmacists. Personal injury is a broad category of preventable damage that harms an individual’s body and mind.

Since certain mistakes in a hospital setting are unavoidable, medical malpractice can be difficult to prove. First and foremost, you must be able to prove that the mistake was completely preventable. The most important factor that must be considered is the medical professional’s actions or inactions, as they relate to predetermined standards of proper medical care. If there were no circumstances to warrant any deviation from these standards, then the doctor may be held liable for the patient’s pain and suffering. Deviation from standard surgical procedures can include improperly administering anesthesia, prolonged use of surgical equipment and failing to notice certain signs of distress during the procedure.

It should also be noted that surgical mistakes do not have to do strictly with the surgery itself. Mistakes can also occur if the patient is given the wrong medication before and after a surgery. Although this is typically a prescription drug error, it may be classified as a surgical mistake if it is directly related to the surgical procedure. Patients can also be gravely injured or die due to lack of attention or improper care after a surgery. Special attention must be paid to patients with pre-existing health conditions, such as heart disease and mental illness. Follow-up care is a critical component of a successful surgery, and doctors must be diligent in noticing any abnormalities in a patient’s healing process.

Talk to a NJ Attorney for Surgical Mistakes Today

If you believe that your surgical injury was due to the inappropriate actions or negligence of a medical professional, please call the experienced NJ Attorneys for Surgical Mistakes of Villani & DeLuca. Only a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can determine if your surgical error was due to medical malpractice. Complications from a surgical mistake can lead to long-term physical and mental damage, compromising your quality of life. Not taking action can also leave you in financial debt from medical bills and loss of employment. Such consequences can adversely affect your ability to live independently or provide for your family. You are under no obligation to proceed after your free initial consultation, and we will not bill you for our services unless you receive compensation.

Call (732) 965-3801 today to schedule a meeting with a NJ Attorney for Surgical Mistakes!