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The Ins and Outs of Surgical Malpractice

Updated September 28, 2019 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide a standard level of care to a patient and violates the doctor-patient agreement. A patient can sue for medical malpractice when they can prove that their doctor made the kind of mistakes that a prudent health care professional would not have made given the same training, experience, and circumstances.

This definition doesn’t change much when it comes to surgical malpractice, except that the stakes tend to be much higher in the operating room.

Common Surgical Errors

There’s always an off-chance that something goes wrong during surgery, and not all surgical errors are considered malpractice. Additionally, no two surgeries are the same, and two otherwise similar procedures could have dramatically different outcomes.

Here are some of the more serious mistakes surgeons can make that deserve a case evaluation by a medical malpractice attorney:

Why Surgical Errors Happen

Doctors are humans, which means that they’re just as susceptible to mistakes as anyone else. Given their specialized training and responsibilities, their mistakes can have an enormous impact.

Here are some of the ways that a health care professional can under-perform with regards to maintaining a standard level of care:

  • Incompetence: Whether the surgeon isn’t prepared, doesn’t have the training, or is careless in their execution, incompetence can lead to surgical errors
  • Improper process: There’s no room for shortcuts in the operating room. By skipping over certain steps or protocols, surgeons can put patients at risk
  • Poor planning: Every detail should be accounted for before any surgery. All of the medical staff involved in a surgical procedure should have access to the patient’s complete medical history and should be aware of the risks that the patient faces
  • Impaired judgment: If a surgeon is sleep-deprived or under the influence of alcohol, they are ill-fit to operate on a patient. A mentally impaired doctor would be liable for any harm inflicted on duty
  • Neglect: Surgeons who neglect to use functional or sterilized equipment are irresponsible and put the patient at risk of infection or injury

A medical malpractice attorney will look for evidence of these circumstances when putting together a surgical malpractice case.

Preventing Surgical Errors

It’s a doctor’s responsibility to prevent surgical errors. Doctors should adhere to the expected standard of care agreed upon with the patient.

Medical professionals should review their patients’ medical history, make sure that their patients are informed about the procedures as well as alternatives and risks, exercise extreme caution during surgery, and follow up with patients afterward to make sure that the recovery is proceeding as expected and that complications don’t arise.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have been injured by a health professional during surgery, contact the attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. An experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. We will examine hospital records, interview staff, talk to medical experts, and work diligently to prove that your life-changing surgical error was the result of negligence.

Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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