Wrong-Site Surgery Errors and Medical Malpractice ClaimsNew Jersey Legal News
Various types of medical malpractice take place every single year across New Jersey and beyond. These claims happen for many reasons, including a violation of a standard duty of care, the act of negligence, and significant damages resulting from your case. A rare type of medical malpractice that takes place in our operating rooms every year is known as wrong-site surgery. What is this type of malpractice and how does it put lives at risk, as well as cause overall harm to patients?
When it comes to medical malpractice cases, a review has shown that wrong-site surgery accounts for approximately 13% of cases. The truth is, many people can receive long-term and even permanent injuries from these incidents. As many as 50 wrong-site incidents take place every week across the U.S. But what are these types of incidents in operating rooms and how serious are they?
What is Res Ipsa Loquitor?
Res ipsa loquitor is a legal doctrine that you might have heard about if you are starting to speak with an attorney or do research on wrong-site surgery cases after you have been harmed. This is a type of doctrine that states that the injury wouldn’t have happened if negligence had not played a role. This doctrine can make your wrong-site surgery case cut-and-dry because it makes it so that you do not need to prove that a professional has acted with medical negligence. This is due to the fact that many of these cases involve serious and life-changing injuries instead of just minor ones.
For instance, what happens if a doctor accidentally amputates your left leg even though the right leg was the one that needed to be amputated? This means that there is no question regarding whether the professional acted in a negligent manner, as this is a huge and dangerous incident that wouldn’t have happened without outright recklessness. If you are the only defendant filing a claim against a professional, there is a good chance that they will want to settle as quickly and easily as possible with you, but this does not mean that trial isn’t on the table – as you never know where a claim can lead.
Who is Liable in My Wrong-Site Surgery Case?
In most cases, the professional who performed the surgery will be liable if they did not take proper precautions and their failure to communicate led to the wrong-site surgery. Most hospitals and other care providers have special checks in place to ensure that huge accidents like these do not happen, as some of the harm that occurs can be irreversible. The surgeon or team of surgeons will almost always be held liable because they are supposed to make final calls and ensure that they are doing absolutely everything that is medically important. However, there are also other parties involved in a procedure who could be held liable, such as nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical staff. The surgical prep team is another viable party, as they are supposed to do everything they can to ensure that the correct records have been given to the surgeon. If something was wrongly listed, then they might be liable for not checking a second and third time.
There are many protocols that have been put in place to ensure that these accidents do not happen in operating rooms across New Jersey and beyond. These protocols involve ensuring the correct patient is present for the surgery, all paperwork has been correctly filled out, and that the surgical site has been correctly marked. These steps take place at the hands of multiple individuals to make sure that the surgery goes as smoothly and correctly as possible.
The site of the surgery should be marked when the patient is lucid, as they will know if the wrong part is being marked. When the surgeon checks again and again, they should be able to easily dictate that the correct organ or body part is being operated on so that no mistakes are made. Because special protocols are put in place, the number of injuries stemming from wrong-site surgeries should decrease every year. However, due to negligence and a failure to abide by the rules in the operating room, these accidents continue to happen.
Can the Hospital Be Liable for My Injury?
If you have been harmed by a wrong-site surgery, the hospital could be liable for your harm in some cases. However, it is imperative to note that not all surgeons are actual employees and some might be considered independent contractors. This means that the hospital might be able to escape liability and you will just have a claim against the negligent surgeon involved in your surgery. However, if the surgeon is physically an employer, this means that you might have a claim against the hospital as well.
Ways Wrong-Site Surgeries Can Be Prevented
Checklist: Every hospital should use a checklist to go over each and every step before the surgery takes place, including a complete marking of the area of the body where the surgery is going to be performed so that nothing is missed.
Miscommunication: With many parties going on breaks and so many people entering and exiting the room, some nurses or surgeons might miss something that has happened, and even the smallest miscommunication could lead to serious results. This is why it is imperative for all team members to speak with one another and be completely sure before the surgery begins.
Involve Patient: Before the surgical site is marked, if applicable, it is always a good idea to speak one-on-one with the patient. The patient knows their body and can be a good guide when it comes to making sure that the right body part is operated on successfully.
How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
You might be feeling lost and hopeless after you have suffered damages due to a wrong-site surgery conducted by a surgeon. Our medical malpractice attorneys have handled many types of personal injury claims for those who have suffered the aftermath of these serious cases. At Brady, Brady & Reilly, our attorneys are skilled and well-versed in the many laws that dictate your case and want to help you every step of the way. Please reach out to us for the help you deserve at (201) 997-0030.