When is a surgical error negligent?

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News headlines often report surgical negligence when there is a clear and unmistakable error by a physician; operating tools, needles, and even personal items belonging to the surgeon, being left inside a patient, have all been in the headlines as significant medical mistakes.

Surgical negligence is generally thought of as something that happens on the operating table. It can happen both before and after an operation as well. The effects of errors occurring before surgery even takes place can lead to injury or, in the most severe cases, death.

Patients are entitled to know when they have been the victim of medical negligence and their rights regarding compensation.

What is Surgical Negligence?

Medical negligence comes in many forms, but a general guide is any act or omission by a medical professional that falls below the accepted standard of medical care. Only authorized professionals can advise if a specific error constitutes negligence. Surgical negligence is not just an area for surgeons, such as cardiac or neurology surgeons, or other medical professionals, such as dentists, who also carry out surgery.

How Does Surgical Negligence Affect a Victim?

There can be grave consequences of surgical negligence. If fortunate, a patient may suffer no ill effects. However, if a surgeon’s work is below a reasonable level of care, a patient may need further surgeries to correct the error; their immune system could be compromised, and they could be at increased risk of contracting infections such as sepsis. In the worst cases, surgical negligence can result in life-changing injuries and even the death of a patient.

Types of Surgical Negligence

There are many ways in which negligence can appear in a clinical setting. Surgery is a highly sophisticated medical procedure, and the pre-planning of an operation is crucial. Surgeons who fail to provide adequate preoperative information or gain clear consent could be failing their patient.

Similarly, surgeons may need to carry out preoperative tests or obtain permission from their superiors before carrying out a procedure; not going through the correct processes can put a patient at risk.

Post-operative errors could be not spotting the signs of an infection in a reasonable time; or neglecting to consult other professionals regarding a patient’s condition.

Many cases of surgical negligence occur in the operating theatre. In an environment containing many different professionals and in situations where many aspects could go wrong, it is not unreasonable that sometimes surgery will not go as planned. However, patients should expect medical staff to minimize the risk and should expect compensation for a surgical error when standards are below par.

Examples of errors in the operating room could be a failure to monitor and react to changes in vital signs, leaving articles in a patient’s body, mistakes with the anesthesia used, and even operating on the wrong part of a patient’s body. These errors could lead to a severe decrease in a patient’s quality of life.

Final Words

Surgery is not risk-free. There are times when a surgeon will do an excellent job, but still, the patient could suffer further harm. However, there are occasions when damage or even death is down to surgical negligence. In these cases, it is vital for hospitals to learn from their mistakes and for patients to receive fair compensation for their suffering.

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