Surgical errors are often a result of medical malpractice, which means you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
The Cincinnati surgical error lawyers at our law firm may be able to help you pursue compensation. We are prepared to launch a detailed investigation as we try to build the strongest possible case. We have in-depth knowledge of Ohio’s medical malpractice laws and how they apply to the specifics of your case.
These are just a few of the advantages of working with a medical error attorney who focuses his or her practice in surgical error cases. Schedule a free consultation with our team to find out if we can help you. There is no fee for our services unless you end up receiving compensation.
Common Types Of Surgical Errors
Surgical errors are also called “never events” because they should never happen. Unfortunately, these “never events” happen quite frequently across the nation. According to an estimate from a study published in Surgery in 2012, these events happen more than 4,000 times per year.
- Leaving foreign objects inside patients – The study found surgeons leave objects like towels or sponges inside patients 39 times per week. These errors made up nearly 50 percent of the “never events” that occurred between Sept. 1990 and Sept. 2010, according to the study.
- Performing the wrong procedure – Approximately 25 percent of the “never events” in the study involved the wrong procedure being performed on a patient.
- Operating on the wrong body part – Another 25 percent of “never events” involved operating on the wrong body part, such as operating on the right arm when the surgeon should have operated on the left arm. There are also cases where surgeons amputate the wrong limb or operate on the left side of the body when they are supposed to operate on the right side.
- Performing surgery on the wrong person – Just 17 of the “never events” that occurred between 1990 and 2010 involved surgeons operating on the wrong patient.
These are some of the most common surgical errors our Cincinnati surgical error attorneys see. However, there are other examples of surgical errors that cause injuries to patients, such as:
- Damaging tissues and other body parts near the surgical site – If surgeons are not careful, they can cause significant damage to surrounding organs, tissues or nerves when making incisions. This damage could lead to excessive bleeding, paralysis or the need for more surgery.
- Anesthesia errors – There are a variety of errors with anesthesia that can put patients at risk for significant injury or even death. For example, surgeons might not give the patient enough anesthesia, which can lead to the patient waking up early. If doctors give the patient too much anesthesia, he or she might have trouble waking up. If doctors do not monitor the patient carefully while he or she is under anesthesia, they could miss signs of stress that need to be dealt with, such as a lack of oxygen. Surgeons also have to check the patient’s medical history to determine if he or she might have an allergic reaction to anesthesia.
- Using the wrong surgical instruments – If surgeons use the wrong instruments, they could cause significant damage to the patient. For example, surgeons could make a larger incision than is necessary. The incision could take longer to heal and could increase the risk of an infection.
If you have been a victim of a surgical error, contact a Cincinnati surgical error attorney at our firm for a free legal consultation.
Injuries Caused By Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can cause a variety of severe, potentially life-changing injuries. Some common injuries and examples of the situations that can lead to them include:
- Muscle damage – If a doctor is performing surgery to relieve sinus pressure, he or she must be careful not to damage the muscles controlling eye movement. If these muscles are damaged, the patient could have chronic double vision and possibly lose the ability to drive or read.
- Organ damage – When doctors perform tubal ligation or hysterectomies, they need to be careful not to damage the bladder or colon. Lacerations could result in excessive bleeding or blood clots in the legs. If these clots reach the lungs, they could kill the patient. Damaging the bowels during a colonoscopy could result in infections in the lungs, kidney or liver.
- Brain damage – If the patient does not get enough oxygen while under anesthesia, he or she could suffer permanent brain damage.
- Nerve damage – Doctors need to be careful when operating near the spine. If they nick a nerve ending, it could result in some level of paralysis.
- Amputation of a health body part – If doctors are not careful, they could amputate the wrong limb. However, the doctor would still need to amputate the other limb unless there is another treatment option. This could mean the patient is without both limbs, leading to a variety of permanent problems with mobility and independence.
- Infection – Leaving an object inside of a patient or not following hospital protocols on cleanliness could cause a serious infection that is difficult to treat.
If you suffered these or any other injuries because of a surgical error, you may be entitled to compensation through a surgical error lawsuit.
Reasons Surgical Errors Occur
There are many reasons why surgical errors occur. Some of the most common include:
- Using instruments that have not been properly sterilized – This increases the risk of a dangerous infection.
- Fatigue or drowsiness – Surgeons often work long shifts so it is possible they will be tired during one of their procedures. Drowsiness increases the risk of making mistakes or not being as careful as they should be.
- Bad communication – When the surgeon and other medical professionals fail to communicate effectively with each other, it can result in critical errors. Miscommunication about a surgical procedure could result in the wrong body part being operated on. Miscommunication about a patient’s allergies to medication could result in the patient receiving a medication he or she is allergic to.
- Taking shortcuts during surgery – Sometimes surgeons decide not to take steps during surgery, thinking they are not necessary. However, our attorneys know that shortcuts could result in severe injury to the patient.
- Poor planning – Sometimes surgeons operate without a plan or fail to prepare for complications that are likely to occur. There are also situations where nurses and assistants do not have the necessary equipment on hand.
- Incompetence – Sometimes the surgeon simply does not have the skill to perform the procedure safely. This could be because the surgeon has not done the procedure very many times.
- Drug or alcohol abuse – Sometimes surgeons do their work under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This can slow their reaction time and make it more difficult to do the precise movements necessary during surgery.
A surgical error attorney in Cincinnati from our firm will review the reason for your surgical error to see if it meets the requirements for medical malpractice. Even though many of the errors above sound like obvious cases of medical malpractice, there are specific requirements that must be met to have a legitimate case.
Proving A Surgical Error Is Medical Malpractice
Ohio has specific requirements for proving you have a legitimate medical malpractice case. For example, when you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must include an affidavit of merit written by an expert witness, according to Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 10(D)(2).
The affidavit of merit must include the following three things:
- A statement that the medical expert has reviewed all medical records concerning the allegations in the complaint
- A statement that the expert is familiar with the standard of care that applies to the case
- The opinion of the expert that the standard of care was breached and this caused injury to the plaintiff (injured patient)
Standard Of Care
The standard of care is the central issue in a medical malpractice case. The standard of care is a legal obligation to provide care that meets accepted medical standards. Another way of saying this is that the medical professional in question must provide care that is similar to what would be provided by a similarly trained medical professional in a similar situation.
The expert who writes the affidavit of merit for your case must explain how this standard was violated by the medical professional in question. For instance, maybe the surgeon who operated on you was intoxicated or used instruments that were not properly sterilized.
The expert must also show that the violation of the standard of care resulted in injuries. In other words, there must be a direct link between the actions of the doctor who treated you and the injury you suffered.
The surgical error lawyers in Cincinnati at our firm can find the appropriate medical expert to show how the standard of care was violated, resulting in your injury. We have handled many medical malpractice cases and know what it takes to be successful.
Statute Of Limitations For Surgical Error Claims
Every medical malpractice claim, including surgical error lawsuits, is governed by the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
This law imposes a one-year deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit (ORC 2305.113(A)). The deadline is one year from the date of malpractice. If the one-year deadline passes, you will lose the right to file a lawsuit.
However, there are various exceptions to this one-year deadline. For instance, if the one-year deadline is approaching, you can get a 180-day extension by providing written notice of your intent to file a medical malpractice case (ORC 2305.113(B)(1).
ORC 2305.113(C)(1) governs situations where people did not immediately discover they were the victim of malpractice when malpractice occurred. This section says no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed more than four years after the alleged malpractice occurred.
ORC 2305.113(D)(1) says that if an individual discovers he or she was the victim of malpractice before the four-year period passes, he or she has one year from the date of discovering malpractice to file a lawsuit. This applies no matter when the individual discovered malpractice.
According to ORC 2305.113(D)(2), claims involving foreign objects left in the body must be filed no more than one year after the person discovered the object, or one year from the time the victim should have discovered it with the exercise of reasonable care and diligence.
You should strongly consider working with a Cincinnati surgical error attorney on your case. The attorneys at our law firm have detailed knowledge of the statute of limitations in Ohio. When you contact our firm, we will review your situation to determine how much time you have to file a lawsuit.
Caps On Compensation
You could be entitled to various forms of economic compensation for your surgical error lawsuit, such as medical bills and lost wages. Ohio law places no limitation on the amount of economic compensation you can recover.
However, there is a cap on noneconomic compensation in all personal injury lawsuits. ORC 2323.43(A)(2) says noneconomic compensation cannot exceed $250,000 or three times the amount of economic compensation, up to a maximum of $350,000 for each victim or a maximum of $500,000 for cases involving multiple victims.
There are two types of cases where these caps are raised to $500,000 per plaintiff or $1 million for cases involving multiple victims. These two types of cases are ones where the victim suffered:
- Permanent and substantial physical deformity, or loss of the use of a limb or loss of a bodily organ system
- Permanent physical functional injury that prevents an individual from being able to care for himself or herself independently and perform life-sustaining activities
However, if you are filing a lawsuit on behalf of someone who died because of a surgical error, there are no caps on damages for your case.
The Cincinnati surgical error attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy have detailed knowledge of these laws and how they apply to your case. We will pursue all the compensation you deserve, up to the limits imposed by the law. We know how valuable compensation can be as you attempt to move forward from this chapter of your life.
Schedule A Free Consultation With Our Cincinnati Surgical Error Attorneys
Surgical errors can cause devastating injuries that affect you for the rest of your life. You may need long-term medical treatment or even assistance with daily tasks you used to take for granted.
That is why our attorneys are prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve. Doctors who commit surgical errors should be held accountable for the harm they have caused.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today with a Cincinnati surgical error lawyer. If you have a case and decide to pursue it, we will not charge for representing you unless you obtain compensation.