Serious surgical errors, like the ones outlined below, are very rare and hardly ever happen. However, especially given the high duty of care in these situations, they should never happen at all.
The doctor-patient duty is one of the highest ones in Florida law. Typically, doctors have a fiduciary duty to their patients. Doctors must disregard financial reward, career advancement, and everything else and focus only on the best interests of their patients. Given this high legal responsibility, medical malpractice is usually easy to prove. And, the damages are rather high.
Medical malpractice, like other forms of negligence, is a breach of a legal duty. So, surgical mistakes are hardly ever “accidents.” They are almost always negligence.
Compensation in a medical malpractice case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additionally, Hillsborough County jurors often award significant punitive damages in these cases. These damages are available if there is clear and convincing evidence of intentional neglect.
This acronym stands for “wrong side, wrong procedure, and wrong patient” injuries. For example, a back surgeon may operate on the wrong bone. Since there are thirty-three bones in the lumbar (lower) spine alone, this mistake is much more common than people think. Also, especially in hectic emergency rooms and operating rooms, it’s not unheard of for doctors to operate on the wrong patient, especially if the two have similar names.
WSPEs are incredibly easy to prevent, yet they occur anyway. A simple pre-operative check and a quick deep breath before the doctor says “scalpel please” could eliminate these injuries. Yet many doctors are unwilling to take even these small steps to protect their patients.
Similar errors include leaving items, like a surgical sponge, inside a patient after the procedure is over. Additionally, some hospitals do not take adequate precautions during recovery, so patients develop serious and even fatal bacterial infections.
Almost all scheduled and emergency procedures involve anesthesia. As mentioned, many doctors, including anesthesiologists, make serious mistakes when they do not take time to fully address patient needs. But anesthesia errors may be even more common in scheduled surgical procedures. Some examples include:
- Inadequate sedation,
- Failure to account for medicine allergies,
- Over-delegating tasks to subordinates, like nurses,
- Excessive sedation,
- Failure to intubate (use an emergency medicine delivery tube) the patient,
- Turning off alarms, and
- Leaving the immediate area, or even leaving the hospital, while the procedure is ongoing.
In both these situations, the clinic, hospital, or other organization which employed the doctor is usually responsible for damages. The respondeat superior rule applies if an employee acted negligently while working within the course and scope of employment. Florida law defines both these elements in broad, victim-friendly terms.
Third-party liability is important in medical negligence cases because a lawsuit is usually the only thing that forces hospitals and clinics to change the way they do business and put patients ahead of profits.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Surgical mistakes happen far too often. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon medical malpractice lawyer, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).