Surgical Error

Surgical error malpractice includes surgeries in a hospital and many procedures done in a surgical center or even in a doctor’s office.
Any time that a surgery or procedure results in a significant injury that did not exist before, medical malpractice should be considered.

Some examples may be helpful. At the Kopec Law Firm, we regularly receive calls about (1) nerve damage from orthopedic surgeries, (2) amputations from infection or poor blood flow, (3) short bowel syndrome, and ostomies from bowel or other abdominal procedures.

1. Orthopedic Nerve Damage

Pain and movement limitations can result from deterioration or injury to parts of the lower back. Several conditions can occur as we age. The spinal canal can start to narrow, putting pressure on the nerves. Arthritis can cause stress on the nerves through compression. The spinal discs also may press on a nerve. The discs are the soft tissue between the bone vertebrae in our spine that help hold the back together and give it some flexibility that allows us to bend. The illustration below shows the anatomy of the back.

back injuries

Many people with back problems seek relief through surgery. Your doctor may do several different types of lumbar (back) surgery. A spinal fusion joins the vertebrae together. A laminectomy and foraminotomy remove part of the bone. A discectomy and disc replacement can address problems that a disc is causing.

The nerves that help control our legs start in the spinal cord in our lower back and run down our legs. Surgical error malpractice can occur when one of these lower back surgeries damages these nerves. You may have nerve damage if you have new pain and leg weakness after the surgery. Nerve damage may affect your walking and may even make it impossible. In extreme instances, damage to the nerves can cause paralysis.

You may have to visit a neurologist for electromyography (EMG) and a nerve conduction velocity test (NCV) to assess the injury. You may need pain management if your pain and weakness do not improve. Gabapentin is a standard medicine prescribed for nerve pain. In severe cases, you may not be able to return to work and may need assistance with your daily activities.

If you have nerve damage following lower back surgery, call lawyer Mark Kopec at 800-604-0704. Get answers and advice for your specific situation.

2. Amputations

Another type of surgical error malpractice that we get calls for regularly involves leg and foot amputations. These can result from infection or poor blood flow.

Infection can start with a minor procedure, such as a podiatrist cutting toenails. A tiny wound can occur that becomes infected. The condition worsens and spreads, so that an amputation is needed. Gangrene can occur as tissue dies. The required amputation may be part or all of the foot, to the knee, or even the whole leg.

We must examine the doctor’s response to the infection in these cases. Some of the questions include:

  • Were antibiotics started promptly? Were the appropriate antibiotics used?
  • Was an incision and drainage performed?
  • Should a less invasive amputation have been performed earlier to prevent the more extensive amputation that occurred?

Amputations can also occur as a result of poor blood flow. The diagnosis sometimes is peripheral vascular disease. Some of the issues in these circumstances include:

  • Was an appropriate procedure done promptly? Balloon angioplasty or placement of a stent? A vascular surgery bypass?

If you have had an amputation and have questions about medical malpractice, call 800-604-0704 to speak with Lawyer Mark Kopec.

3. Short Bowel Syndrome / Ostomies

Another category of surgical error malpractice can involve Short Bowel Syndrome or the need for ostomies. Short Bowel Syndrome can occur after surgery removes a significant part of the small intestine. There is not enough intestine remaining to absorb nutrients from food. That can cause malnutrition, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea. The patient sometimes has to go on a special diet and may even require a feeding tube.

The question is, why did so much of the small intestine have to be removed? If the reason is that an earlier procedure damaged the bowel, there may be a medical malpractice case. For example, your bowel may have been injured during a colonoscopy or in another bowel surgery. In addition, an earlier surgeon working in the abdomen near the bowel may have damaged it.

The result of the injury may be an ostomy bag. A colostomy or ileostomy creates an opening in the colon or small intestine to allow stool to pass out of the body into a bag. A urostomy or ureterostomy allows urine to pass out of the body into a bag. Suppose damage to the intestines or bladder anatomy during a prior procedure causes you to need an ostomy. In that case, you may have a medical malpractice case.

Call Now

The above examples are just a few of the categories of surgical errors. If you believe you have a surgical error case, call lawyer Mark Kopec at 800-604-0704 to speak directly with him about your specific situation.

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