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How Common Is Surgical Malpractice?

surgical instruments on a table

Surgical malpractice is a type of medical malpractice that can occur when a surgeon or other health care professional in Houston acts in a way that deviates from the accepted standard of care during surgery. Malpractice can lead to patients’ severe injuries or illnesses and sometimes their wrongful deaths.

Throughout this article, we will explore how common surgical malpractice is, what it entails, and why it occurs. We will also discuss why you may want to speak with a medical malpractice attorney if you have been a victim of a surgical error to understand your rights and options.

How Many People Are Affected by Surgical Malpractice Annually?

U.S. government research shows that surgical mistakes occur once out of every 112,000 surgical procedures. Other statistics published by the National Institutes for Health place surgical errors at 4,000 incidents annually.

Though rare, surgical malpractice is a real possibility patients face when undergoing surgery. There is a stronger likelihood of these errors happening in certain medical specialties than in others. For example, one study published by the Orthopaedic Trauma Association shows that the estimated probability of lawsuits related to orthopedic trauma is 23.3%. This means that for every 100 surgeries, there is the potential for nearly 24 malpractice claims.

What Are the Most Common Errors That Occur During Surgery?

Surgery is a delicate and precise process, and even the slightest error can have serious consequences.

Wrong Site Surgeries

One of the most common types of surgical errors is known as a “wrong site” surgery, which occurs when a surgeon operates on the wrong body part. This can happen when a surgeon misreads the medical chart or when an anesthesiologist fails to mark the patient’s body properly.

Wrong Procedure Surgeries

Another common surgical error is performing the wrong procedure entirely. This error can happen when a surgeon is not adequately trained in performing a particular procedure or when they fail to double-check the operative plan pre-surgery.

Organ or Tissue Damage Stemming From a Surgery

Surgical errors can also occur during the operation, resulting in injuries to the patient’s organs or tissues. These errors can occur due to poor judgment, fatigue, or even carelessness.

Surgical Tools Left Inside Patients

Last, a surgeon or team member may inadvertently leave a surgical tool in a patient’s body. Situations in which sponges, metal clamps, and other objects have been left in patients are not uncommon. Many times, patients do not realize this has happened until they experience acute pain, leading to imaging being performed on them and the discovery of the oversight happening.

While these errors are severe, a key element among them is that they can be avoided with proper training and vigilance.

How To Tell if You’re a Surgical Malpractice Victim

While surgery is generally a safe and effective medical procedure, there is always the potential for complications. Some signs that you may have been the victim of surgical malpractice include if you experience:

  • Unexpected or unexplained health declines after your surgery, such as new pain, bleeding, or scarring
  • Delayed healing or problems with the surgical wound, such as an infection

We launch investigations into where things went wrong when we take on surgical malpractice cases at our Houston office of Buckingham & Vega Law Firm. We often find that most adverse outcomes like the ones described above happen for one of the two following reasons:

  • The surgeon or their medical team made some error or mistake during the operation
  • The treating physician failed to obtain informed consent before proceeding, thus not giving the patient an adequate opportunity to know what to expect and make an informed choice after considering the risks

There are even situations in which your surgeon or a member of their surgical team were not the ones who made any mistakes and did not engage in negligence in the operating room, but the manufacturer of a defective medical device did. While situations like this don’t specifically fall under the umbrella of medical malpractice, it may warrant filing a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the dangerous or defective medical device for any injuries its poor design, fabrication, or marketing caused you.

If you have suffered harm after undergoing a surgical procedure, then know that Texas law allows individuals like you to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. After learning more about your case, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can let you know your legal options.

What To Do if a Surgery Injured You

Surgery is a necessary medical procedure that can help to improve a person’s health and quality of life. However, as with any medical procedure, there is always a risk of complications. If you have been injured due to surgery, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Depending on the nature of your injuries, you may need to stay in the hospital for further treatment. In some cases, you may be able to pursue a legal claim against the surgeon or the hospital. An experienced attorney from our office at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm can help you to understand your rights and options.

How Do You Prove a Surgical Malpractice Case in Texas?

The theoretical basis for filing a medical malpractice claim in Texas is negligence. Your attorney will need to prove that the doctor or another health care provider owed you a duty of care and that your injuries stemmed from them breaching their responsibilities to you.

One of our Buckingham & Vega Law Firm surgical malpractice lawyers will need to obtain and review your medical records to prove these elements.

Your personal injury attorney here in Houston may also need to interview anyone present in the surgical suite at the time of your operation. Your lawyer may also need to consult with expert witnesses to establish where your surgeon’s or surgical team’s actions deviated from the expected norm when treating you to build a strong case on your behalf.

Finding a Houston Attorney To Represent You in Your Surgical Malpractice Case

There are hundreds if not thousands of personal injury attorneys here in Houston who could easily convince you that they can handle your surgical error case. You should not just let any attorney represent you, though.

You will want to ensure that whomever you hire as your lawyer knows Texas medical malpractice laws and has experience handling cases like yours. There is a fine line between an honest mistake and negligence. The difference between the two concepts is something that only the most experienced medical malpractice attorneys like ours at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm understand.

Email or call us to discuss the care you have received at a Houston surgeon’s hands today. We will schedule a free consultation with one of our surgical malpractice attorneys and, if you desire to hire us, get to work on advocating for your right to compensation for what you have been through right away.

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