Too often, people forget that any surgery can have complications, often referring to simple procedures as “minor.” The fact is that even the simplest surgery in Texas can lead to problems. Understanding when a surgical error qualifies as medical malpractice is critical to also understand your rights under the law.
Are all surgical errors medical malpractice?
It is important to note that just because there was a surgical error does not mean you automatically qualify for a medical malpractice claim. Under the law, all medical treatment must fall under the accepted standard of care. In addition, if there was substandard care, it must have caused you harm. In other words, if a surgical error occurs, but you do not suffer harm, you do not qualify to file a claim for medical malpractice. By the same token, if the error was not below standard care, even if you suffer an injury, you may not qualify for a claim.
Causes of surgical errors
Research shows that surgical errors are the second-leading cause of medical malpractice in the country. There are many reasons why a surgical error may occur. These can include:
• Lack of communication during the procedure
• Lack or insufficient preoperative planning
• A surgeon under the influence of drugs or alcohol
• Shortcuts taken during the procedure
These errors could lead to damaged nerves, anesthesia errors, incisions in the wrong area, leaving surgical equipment inside the patient, or operating on the wrong body part.
What is the standard of care?
Although there are cases where the cause of a surgical error clearly didn’t meet the standard of care, sometimes it’s not. Standard of care is the type or level of care that a prudent medical provider would offer under the same circumstances and with the same training or expertise. For instance, a prudent medical provider would not use equipment that he or she knew to be defective during a procedure or fail to sterilize equipment properly. In a case like that, if you sustained an injury, you could claim that the standard of care wasn’t met. However, if the doctor was unaware there was a defect in the equipment until after your procedure, you may not have a valid medical malpractice claim against the doctor.
If you believe you have been injured due to a surgical error, you need to speak to an attorney to see what rights you may have regarding a malpractice claim.