Surgical Error

Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Know from the Baltimore Surgical Error Lawyer

Surgical procedures are part of modern medicine, for a wide range of medical conditions. While doctors can perform surgeries safely and effectively, unfortunately, some complications arise from preventable errors, which can constitute medical malpractice. The Kopec Law Firm provides this web page for an overview of surgical errors, the different types of surgeons and surgeries, what can go wrong, and the legal options available to those who have been harmed. If a surgery has injured you, then you may need the Baltimore surgical error lawyer at the Kopec Law Firm.

Surgical error malpractice includes surgeries in a hospital and also 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.

Types of Surgeons and Surgeries

A vast array of surgeons specializes in different areas of the body and surgical procedures. Here are some of the most common types:

  • General Surgeons: Generally, perform a wide range of abdominal surgeries, including appendectomies, hernia repairs, and gallbladder removals.
  • Orthopedic Surgeons: Specialize in the musculoskeletal system, performing joint replacements, fracture repairs, and spine surgeries.
  • Neurosurgeons: Operate on the brain and spinal cord, treating tumors, aneurysms, and other neurological conditions.
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeons: Specifically focus on the heart, lungs, and major blood vessels, performing bypass surgeries, valve replacements, and lung resections.
  • Plastic Surgeons: Perform both reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries, restoring form and function after injury or illness.

There are several categories of surgeries:

  • Invasive vs. Minimally Invasive: Traditional surgery involves larger incisions, while minimally invasive procedures use smaller incisions and specialized tools, often resulting in faster recovery times.
  • Elective vs. Emergency: Elective surgeries are planned in advance to address non-life-threatening conditions, while emergency surgeries are performed immediately to save a life or limb.
  • Open vs. Laparoscopic: Open surgery involves a large incision to access the surgical site, while laparoscopic surgery uses a laparoscope, a thin instrument with a camera, to view and operate on the area through small incisions.

What Can Go Wrong During Surgery?

Some surgical errors are preventable and can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Here are some common types of surgical errors:

  • Wrong-site Surgery: Operating on the incorrect body part or patient.
  • Anesthesia Errors: Mistakes in administering anesthesia, leading to complications like allergic reactions or awareness during surgery.
  • Surgical Instrument Errors: Leaving instruments or sponges inside the patient after surgery.
  • Nerve Damage: Unintentional damage to nerves during surgery, causing pain, numbness, or weakness.
  • Perforation of Organs: Puncturing or tearing internal organs during surgery.
  • Post-surgical Infection: Failure to properly prevent or treat infections after surgery.

Medical Malpractice Claims with the Baltimore Surgical Error Lawyer

To bring a medical malpractice claim for a surgical error, it must be proven that the healthcare provider deviated from the “standard of care” and this deviation caused you harm. The standard of care refers to the level of care that a reasonably prudent doctor of the same specialty would provide under the same circumstances.

Here are some examples of medical malpractice claims that can arise from surgical errors:

  • Failure to obtain informed consent: Before any surgery, a doctor must obtain your informed consent, which means explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the procedure. If you were not properly informed, you may have a case.
  • Surgical mistakes: Examples include operating on the wrong body part, leaving instruments inside the patient, or performing the wrong surgery altogether.
  • Anesthesia errors: Mistakes in administering anesthesia can lead to serious complications, including brain damage, stroke, or even death.
  • Post-operative care errors: Inadequate monitoring or treatment after surgery can worsen complications or lead to new ones.

Specific Examples

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.

Baltimore Surgical Error Lawyer
Baltimore Surgical Error Lawyer

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.

Nerve Damage Test

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. Consequently, 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 the doctor have to remove so much of the small intestine? If the reason is that an earlier procedure damaged the bowel, there may be a medical malpractice case. For example, a colonoscopy or bowel surgery may have injured your bowel. 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.

What to Do if You Believe You Have Been a Victim of Surgical Error

If you suspect a surgical error has harmed you, then it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Next, gather your medical records and contact us. We can review your case, determine if there is evidence of medical malpractice, and advise you on your legal options.

Next Step: Call the Baltimore Surgical Error Lawyer

The above examples are just a few of the categories of surgical errors. If you believe you have a surgical error case, then visit the free consultation page or video. Then contact the Kopec Law Firm at 800-604-0704 to speak directly with Attorney Mark Kopec. He is a top-rated Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. The Kopec Law Firm is in Baltimore and pursues cases throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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