Surgical malpractice is one of the most devastating forms of medical malpractice, and likely one of the most underreported. Nearly a quarter of a million people die every year from medical malpractice, and at least 12,000 die each year from unnecessary surgery. Only a small percentage of these cases are ever brought forward in a legal case.
The reason why so few medical mistakes are held accountable under the law is that people often don’t realize when their poor outcomes were preventable or due to a practitioner’s mistake. Our job as Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys is to help people understand what happened to them and investigate who was at fault.
That’s why we wrote this blog: to give patients an idea of when their doctors are at fault for surgical malpractice and when they should call a lawyer. Keep in mind that these signs (with one exception) don’t guarantee that you’re a victim of surgical malpractice, but they are worth calling an attorney over.
If your loved one died while in surgery, particularly a routine surgery, that’s a sign that the medical staff made a mistake. Doctors often note that all surgeries come with risks, and that is true. However, surgeries that aren’t high-risk or aren’t emergency surgeries resulting in death warrant close investigation.
Wrong Surgery or Wrong Site
If you or a loved one received the wrong surgery or received surgery on the wrong part of your body, it is 100% certain that your doctor committed surgical malpractice. Wrong site or wrong surgery mistakes are what medical experts call “never events,” as in “events that should never happen.”
Whatever the cause of the wrong site/surgery, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible. You absolutely need to hold that doctor or hospital accountable.
Lack of Informed Consent
In order for a surgery to be fully authorized, a patient must be fully informed of the risks and consequences of the procedure. Otherwise, the doctor will be operating without the patient’s informed consent. That’s why the conversations with a medical provider prior to surgery are so crucial: it’s how patients effectively advocate for themselves (or their loved ones).
If the surgeon was not been clear or forthcoming about the risks or consequences of surgery, or if they insist that a poor outcome “was always a possibility,” then it’s possible that they didn’t seek the patient’s informed consent—making the surgery a case of medical malpractice.
If a surgery came too late or a medical provider didn’t act on a diagnosis quickly enough, that’s grounds for a medical malpractice case. Failure to diagnose is one of the most common forms of medical malpractice, but in order to prove negligence, you’ll need to prove that any reasonable doctor would have acted more quickly or made a correct diagnosis.
Admission of Fault
Doctors are not obligated to disclose when they’ve made mistakes in a patient’s care. As long as a patient experiences a positive outcome, they may never even realize that their care was negligent. However, in very rare cases, a doctor may admit that they should have acted sooner, or they misdiagnosed the patient’s condition, or they committed a mistake during surgery.
Whether you or your loved one was the victim of medical malpractice, it’s not your responsibility to figure out if you “have a case” or not; that’s what your lawyer is for. Since 1922, our firm has helped our clients hold at-fault individuals and companies accountable, getting them the resources they needed to get back on their feet. If something went wrong with your surgery, speak with us as soon as possible.
Call (888) 498-3023 or contact us online to get a free consultation.