To understand if you have a case, you first have to understand the basics of medical malpractice. So, what is medical malpractice? When you are undergoing a medical treatment of any kind, that treatment has to adhere to an accepted medical standard of care, and the sub-standard treatment must result in harm to you for you to have a possible case. So what standard of care needs to be followed? Generally, the type and level of care an ordinary, competent health care professional with the same training and experience, would provide under similar circumstances in the same community. If it becomes established that a surgical error violated this said standard of care, then the issue becomes whether or not you were harmed by the error.
Surgical Errors and Why They Occur
Surgical errors are preventable mistakes during surgery. Surgeries always involve an element of risk, which is why it is typical to sign a form before going in so the patient understands the surgery involves certain known risks. This is called “informed consent.” However, surgical errors go beyond the known risks of surgery and are unexpected in many cases. There can be many reasons why they occur, including the following:
Incompetence, Insufficient Preoperative Planning, Improper Work Process, Poor Communication, Fatigue, Drugs/Alcohol, Neglect.
There are also types of surgical errors that can occur more often than others. Here are the most common:
Injuring a nerve during surgery, Administering too much or too little medication, Performing an incision at the wrong location, Leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside a patient, Operating on the wrong body part, Operating on the wrong patient.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
These make up a large variety of medical malpractice cases. When a condition goes misdiagnosed, the patient may miss treatment opportunities that could have prevented serious harm or death. If a reasonably skillful and competent doctor under the same circumstances would not have made the diagnostic error, then the treating doctor may be liable for malpractice.
Childbirth Injuries and Medical Malpractice
Many fetal injuries can be caused by very unfortunate medical malpractice. This could include brain injuries like cerebral palsy and seizures, fractured bones, and erb’s and Klumpke’s palsy. A physician or obstetrician’s negligence can happen during childbirth or long before. Negligent prenatal care and negligence during childbirth can happen really anytime.
Negligent prenatal care: The mother or fetus could be harmed during the pregnancy is negligent medical treatment is provided at any time. This could include a failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother like diabetes, failure to identify birth defects, failure to identify ectopic pregnancies, or failure to diagnose a disease that could be contagious to the fetus.
Negligence during childbirth: Common errors that could take place during childbirth include a failure to anticipate birth complications due to the baby’s large size or umbilical cord entanglement, failure to respond to signs of fetal distress, failure to order a C-section when one was appropriate, or incompetent use of forceps or a vacuum extractor.
You should consider talking to an experienced lawyer if you have questions about whether a surgical error amounts to medical malpractice. These cases are very complex and the legal standards may go above and beyond what a typical person may understand. Your chances of success in a case will be much higher if you speak to a lawyer. Call WTW today for a consultation.