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What Constitutes Surgical Errors in Medical Malpractice Cases, and When Should You Consult an Attorney?

Every surgeon must follow their field’s accepted standard of care. This means they are expected to provide the same level of care consistent with another professional in the same situation. So, imagine that you’re undergoing surgery for appendicitis. Your surgeon must monitor your vitals, operate on the correct body part, and provide appropriate aftercare. If they don’t, and you suffer an avoidable complication, they’re considered negligent and therefore responsible for your damages. 

Navigating the claims process after suffering a surgical error can get complicated. From the moment you suffer injury or discover an error, you could benefit from consulting a medical malpractice attorney. They can investigate the circumstances of the error and seek fair compensation. 

These Issues May Constitute Surgical Errors in Medical Malpractice Cases 

Some examples of operating room mistakes include the following:

  • Inadvertently leaving foreign objects inside the body. Sometimes, the very purpose of the surgical procedure is to put something inside the body and leave it there, like a pacemaker to regulate the patient’s heart rhythm. The problem arises when the surgical team accidentally makes mistakes, like leaving gauze behind when they close the incision. These mistakes can cause life-threatening infections.
  • Operating on the wrong side of the body. Some hospitals have pre-op protocols that require the surgeon to verify with the patient the correct side of the body and the type of surgery before they undergo anesthesia. The doctor then draws a large “X” on the patient where they will perform the surgery. When a surgeon does not follow a similar protocol, wrong-side surgery mistakes can happen.
  • Mixing up medical charts. This mistake can result in the wrong surgery being performed. For example, one patient is scheduled for a tonsillectomy, and one is scheduled for an appendectomy. Because of a chart mix-up, each patient gets the other patient’s surgical procedure. One wakes up without tonsils, and the other without an appendix. 
  • Anesthesia errors. These mistakes are often lethal because the patient could get inadequate oxygen to the brain, causing brain damage or death, or have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic. The failure to review the patient’s chart or carefully monitor the patient’s status during the procedure can cause these issues.

These are but a few examples of the many types of mistakes that can happen in the operating room. Lack of informed consent could be medical malpractice, although not necessarily an error, if the surgeon goes beyond the scope of the procedure to which the patient consented.

When You Should Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer 

You might want to talk to a medical negligence lawyer if: 

  • You do not want to battle a billion-dollar malpractice insurance corporation and its fleet of defense lawyers.
  • You want to level the playing field between you and the insurance company. 
  • You want the opportunity to rest and recuperate rather than engage in a high-stress, high-pressure medical malpractice claim by yourself.

A surgical malpractice lawyer handles your claim so that you can focus on getting better and rebuilding your life. You don’t have to investigate what happened, calculate your losses, and seek justice by yourself. 

How California Law Defines Surgical Errors 

The legal standard for medical care in California is that the medical practitioner must “use the level of skill, knowledge, and care in diagnosis and treatment that other reasonably careful” medical practitioners would have used in the situation, according to CACI No. 501

When a medical professional fails to deliver healthcare services that meet this standard, they are negligent. Under this law, surgical errors constitute medical malpractice. 

The Filing Deadline for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Our State

After suffering a surgical error or medical malpractice, you may decide to file a lawsuit. Yet, you have a limited time to do this. You generally have three years to file, according to CCP § 340.5. If a close relative passed away from medical malpractice, the filing deadline is within three years from the date of death or within one year of when the family discovered that medical negligence caused the death-–whichever date is earlier.

Negotiating with the defendant’s professional liability insurance carrier does not satisfy the filing deadline, also called the statute of limitations. If you do not settle the case or file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, California law can forever bar you from seeking compensation for your losses from the at-fault party. By reaching out to our medical malpractice lawyers, you can protect your right to compensation after suffering a surgical error. 

Consult With Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys on Your Surgical Error Claim 

Under state law, you have legal rights after suffering medical malpractice. Yet, you may have concerns about consulting with a lawyer because of concerns about cost. 

KJT Grupo de Derecho handles medical malpractice cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay us any upfront legal fees. Our no-fee guarantee means that if you do not win, you do not pay our attorney’s fees. You can reach out to us today for a free consultation at (818) 507-8525

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