Surgery is something most people try to avoid if possible. However, sometimes surgery is the most effective—or only effective—way to treat or correct an injury or illness.

Bodies react differently to surgical intervention; sometimes, surgery does not produce the desired results. When a surgeon’s carelessness, poor judgment, or lack of skill harms a patient, a patient could file a medical malpractice claim seeking damages.

If surgery left you worse off than before, consult a Tampa surgical error lawyer at Perenich Law Injury Attorneys immediately. Working with a family firm of attorneys with deep ties in the community can ensure you get the kind of personalized service you deserve.

Distinguishing a Surgical Error from a Bad Outcome

Surgery is not always successful. The decision whether to operate is often a judgment call, and the tests available to a surgeon do not always accurately predict what they will find when they open the patient. Many failed surgeries are not anyone’s fault.

However, a patient could hold a surgeon liable for their injuries in some cases. All medical professionals must adhere to an appropriate standard of care, meaning they must utilize the same degree of knowledge and skill as other similarly trained would in the same circumstances. A patient may not have received treatment in keeping with the appropriate standard of care if the surgeon:

  • Performed unnecessary surgery
  • Did not provide proper pre-operative care
  • Recommended an ineffective or inappropriate procedure
  • Failed to fully disclose the foreseeable risks of the procedure
  • Did not respond appropriately if the patient’s vital signs indicated distress
  • Performed surgery despite medical indications that it was contraindicated

Failing to perform the surgery with adequate skill, resulting in damage to a muscle, nerve, or organ, also could be an indicator of medical negligence.

According to Florida Statutes § 766.104, a Tampa surgical error attorney must consult a medical expert before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a surgeon. The expert must review the patient’s medical records and determine whether evidence exists indicating the surgeon did not meet the standard of care. If the expert finds the surgeon did not provide care on par with other surgeons treating the same condition, the patient could file a malpractice claim.

Never Events

There is a category of surgical errors called “never events,” which are situations that could not happen in the absence of negligence. Accidentally leaving a foreign object in a patient’s body, performing the wrong operation on a patient, and operating on the wrong side of the body or wrong body part are examples of never events.

A surgeon exercising reasonable care could not make a mistake that leads to a surgical never event. An expert review before a lawsuit is still necessary, but a patient who suffered harm due to a never event has a strong case for damages.

Who Can I Sue for a Surgical Error?

Most of the time, the party primarily at fault for a surgical error in both a practical and legal sense is the surgeon who was leading the team performing the surgery in question and who actually made the error, which led to their patient suffering avoidable harm. Importantly, though, individual surgeons are rarely the only parties who could hold civil liability for this type of malpractice, nor are they even always the person who is mainly to blame for the error happening in the first place.

In the former context, it is very often possible to hold the medical facility that employed a negligent surgeon “vicariously liable” for their employee’s misconduct, thanks to a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior. Along similar lines, if a medical facility knowingly employs a surgeon with a history of making serious errors or does not review a surgeon’s background carefully enough to identify such a history before hiring them, that facility—and by association, its administrators and owners—may be directly liable for the role their negligent hiring practices played in causing a surgical error.

As for the latter context, surgical errors in Tampa and throughout the state of Florida sometimes occur partially or even primarily due to negligence by someone other than the surgeon in charge of the procedure. This could be someone like:

  • An assistant directly involved in the surgery who did not maintain proper sanitation or did not monitor a patient’s vital signs closely enough
  • A specialist or nurse who did not provide appropriate pre-op or post-op care to a patient
  • A third-party supplier or manufacturer that provided subpar equipment for use by the surgeon.

Support from a well-practiced Tampa surgical mistake attorney could be crucial to identifying exactly how a particular error happened and who should be held financially accountable for its consequences.

Damages Available in Surgical Error Cases

Patients demonstrating that a surgeon’s negligent error caused them harm are entitled to compensation. A patient must prove their damages, but a skilled Tampa lawyer could help them document the losses they suffered due to the surgical error.

A patient could seek reimbursement of their economic damages, which include any expenses the patient incurred due to the surgeon’s negligence. The cost of additional medical treatment, lost income, and incidental expenses count as economic damages. If the patient’s condition requires ongoing treatment or would prevent them from returning to work, the surgeon might be liable for the patient’s future losses.

Non-economic damages are intangible losses such as:

  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Disability
  • Embarrassment
  • Inconvenience
  • Lost enjoyment/quality of life

The law caps a patient’s non-economic damages at $500,000 in most cases; however, a judge could raise the limit under limited circumstances and if fairness merits an increased award.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Surgical Error Case in Florida?

Although it may feel less than appealing in the moment, one of the most important things anyone who believes they have been hurt through a surgical error can do afterward is immediately seek additional medical care from other qualified professionals. In addition to making sure their condition is stabilized and that long-term damage is minimized as much as possible, the physicians providing this treatment will also produce extensive documentation about their patient’s injuries or illnesses, which will be vital to proving what specific effects a previous surgical error had.

Similarly, it can be important for someone considering a surgical error claim in Tampa to make and preserve copies of all previous medical reports, bills, and communication related to their previous surgery and the medical team involved in providing it. When it comes to establishing a fair value for non-economic losses like physical pain and psychological trauma, contemporaneous notes and testimony from close friends and family members can likewise be crucial to establishing the extent of harm that a specific error caused, as well as what effects the injured person can expect it to have in the future.

Trust a Tampa Attorney When Seeking Damages for a Surgical Error

Anyone undergoing surgery puts their life in the hands of their surgeon. When the surgeon makes a preventable error, the impact can be devastating.

Our firm of 3 brothers helping others represents people who have suffered harm from surgical errors and works to get them appropriate compensation. Discuss your situation with a Tampa surgical error lawyer at Perenich Law Injury Attorneys today.

Perenich Law injury Attorneys

Perenich Law injury Attorneys N/a
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