One of the most tragic aspects of a situation where a surgical error occurred and a patient is seriously injured or killed as a result is that most of the time, the patient and family is left in the dark. Hospitals and their insurance carriers may not always disclose the truth of what occurred in the operating room when something goes wrong. Patients, or surviving family members, will be left with many questions and no answers. Maryland surgical error lawyer Susan R. Green has been standing up for the rights of patients harmed by hospital mistakes throughout her career. In addition to her advocacy for patients who have been misdiagnosed with Lyme disease, she also investigates potential medical malpractice from surgical errors for patients and families. If you suspect a mistake or error occurred while you or your loved one was in surgery, speak to an experienced lawyer like Susan R. Green as soon as possible.
What is a Surgical Error, and When is it Medical Negligence?
Not all poor outcomes of surgery are mistakes or medical negligence. All surgeries and medical treatments have inherent risks. However, a surgical error is medical malpractice when the surgeon, doctor or other health care professional violates the acceptable standard of care when treating a patient. For a surgical mistake to be considered medical malpractice, the following must have occurred:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship. This is generally proven if the patient is undergoing surgery with a doctor.
- The surgeon violated the standard of reasonable care. The standard of care is determined by other surgeons in that specialty, not lawyers, judges or juries. This element must be determined by medical experts and explained via affidavit when the case is filed. Our law firm works with medical experts to review the record to determine if an expert surgeon believes the treating physician violated this accepted standard of care.
- This breach of the standard of care was the proximate cause of the injury or death. As stated above, all surgery has inherent risks, and patients are in surgery to correct an illness or acute injury. Therefore, even if the surgeon made a mistake, you must also prove that this mistake was the proximate cause of the subsequent injury or death.
- The patient suffered actual damages. The patient must have suffered damages, including having to have second surgeries, increased medical bills, additional time off work, etc. Further, the patient can also claim non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or disfigurement. A surviving family who was dependent on a person who died in surgery due to medical mistakes will also have damages, including but not limited to lost wages and benefits.
What Should I Do If I Suspect a Surgical Mistake Occurred?
After most surgeries, it is not uncommon for a patient to experience swelling, pain and other post-op discomforts. Unfortunately, these discomforts, combined with pain medications, may mask serious problems caused by a surgical error. Surgeons must inform patients of what is to be expected after surgery, so the patient knows if something is going on that should not be. If a post-op patient has any suspicion something is not right, they must speak to their doctor immediately or go to the emergency room at once. If a doctor is not taking your concerns seriously, get a second opinion.
After receiving treatment for the problem you are experiencing post-op, when you are able, speak to a lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases review the situation. Just like any other personal injury claim, there is a time limit to file a lawsuit, so do not wait too long. If you are unable to speak or visit a lawyer yourself, have a spouse or trusted family member reach out to an attorney.
Contact Our Maryland Attorney for Legal Advice Regarding Surgical Errors
The only way to know the difference between a poor outcome of surgery and a preventable mistake that caused injury or death is to have an attorney review the situation and medical records with trusted experts. The surgeon or hospital may not tell you the truth (or they may be prevented from disclosing the truth by their insurance carrier, who is protecting its own interests.) Get the answers you need from Baltimore attorney Susan R. Green.