According to a recent survey, about 80,000 “never” events occurred in the United States between 1990 and 2010. These are surgical mistakes which should never happen under any circumstances, such as instruments being left inside patients after surgery. That alarmingly high figure does not include acts of ordinary negligence, which are outlined below.
Legally, doctors have a very high duty of care in these situations. What might be one-off accidents in some other contexts are actionable negligence in the doctor-patient context. Generally, the hospital, clinic, or other entity which employed the negligent professional is liable for damages.
Because of that high duty of care, a Brandon personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial compensation in these cases. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Instrument sterilization errors dominate this are of surgical mistakes. Most hospitals superheat instruments to sterilize them. There are a lot of things that can go wrong during this process.
For starters, today’s surgical instruments are much different than the ones used in the 20th century. Back then, most instruments resembled butcher tools. They often had blades, handles, and little else. But due to the rise of non-invasive and minimally-invasive procedures, modern instruments are small, delicate, and have lots of moving parts. These instruments are not as easy to clean.
Sometimes, the professional staff does not heat the instrument enough to kill bacteria. Other times, the instrument gets too hot and does not cool off properly. As a result, the patient may suffer extreme burns.
Errors During the Procedure
Many things can go wrong during the procedure itself, mostly with regard to anesthesia. Some common errors include:
- Wrong Medicine: Some patients have allergies to certain medications. If time is of the essence, and it often is in these situations, many anesthesiologists do not carefully review the patient’s medical record. Instead, they rely on the patient’s oral assurance, which may or may not be accurate.
- Improper Dose: If the dose is too low, the patient could wake up during the procedure. If the dose is too high, the patient may not wake up at all. Seemingly insignificant errors could make a big difference.
- Failure to Monitor: Like other doctors, anesthesiologists are often overconfident. They sometimes do not monitor their patients during the procedure. It is not uncommon for anesthesiologists to leave the surgical area altogether.
As mentioned, doctors have a very high duty of care. They must set aside everything except the patient’s well-being.
Mistakes during this portion of the procedure are especially common after injury surgeries. Patients are extremely vulnerable to infection, especially in the areas of the body that were treated.
For the most part, hospitals are sterile environments. But that’s not necessarily the case with regard to rehabilitation centers and transportation areas, like ambulances. One ill or injured visitor can contaminate many patients, and medical professionals have a legal duty to prevent such infections.
Work with Forceful Attorneys
Surgical errors are far too common in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon medical malpractice attorney, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).