Possible Long-Term Effects of Surgical Errors
Posted on October 10, 2023 in Medical Malpractice
Millions of people undergo various types of surgical procedures each year across this country, and most procedures accomplish their intended goal. However, there are times when surgical errors occur, and this can lead to significant long-term consequences for a patient. In such a case, a Portland surgical error attorney may be able to fight for justice for you or your injured loved one.
Most Common Surgical Errors
There is a reason that surgical errors are called “never events.” Surgical mistakes are not always preventable, but there are certain types of errors that should never happen and are completely preventable. Some of the most common surgical mistakes that are considered “never events” include the following:
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Surgery on the wrong individual
- Operating on the wrong side of the body
- Mistakes when administering or monitoring anesthesia
- Defective equipment used during the surgical procedure
- Performing a completely unnecessary surgery
- Performing a medical procedure without obtaining informed consent
- Leaving a foreign object inside of a person after completing the procedure
- Damaging another part of the body while operating
Studies have pointed out that “never events” are rare, but when they do occur, they are devastating to patients. A 2013 study indicated that more than 4,000 surgical “never events” occur annually across the country.
Mistakes can occur inside the surgical theater that may not be considered “never events.” Often, surgeons or other medical professionals make a mistake and immediately fix the error, but there are times when mistakes lead to longer-term complications.
Long-Term Complications Associated With Surgical Mistakes
When a person is harmed due to a botched surgical procedure, they may never live the same life again. Medical malpractice victims may have to endure persistent and chronic pain, long-term disabilities, scarring and disfigurement, and more. All of this can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, self-esteem, and desire to continue living.
Individuals who are harmed due to surgical mistakes may require continued medical treatment, prolonged hospital stays, as well as long-term physical therapy and rehabilitation or in-home medical care.
The financial toll associated with medical errors can be tremendous. Continued medical treatment costs must be accounted for, as well as any lost wages due to a victim becoming unable to work. Aside from the direct and calculable financial losses, surgical malpractice victims often experience extreme stress, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days, weeks, months, and years following the surgical error.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
If you or a loved one sustains an injury or illness caused by a surgical mistake in Oregon, it is crucial to file your claim as soon as possible. The medical malpractice statute of limitations for this state is two years from the date the medical mistake occurred or two years from the date the victim should reasonably have discovered the injury or illness caused by the error.
If a medical malpractice victim fails to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent provider or facility within this two-year time frame, they will likely be unable to recover any compensation for their losses. There are some exceptions to this time frame, including extensions granted to those who are under 18 at the time the incident occurs and those deemed “insane.” The statute of limitations in these cases will either be five years from the date of the alleged incident or one year from when the individual turns 18 or is no longer determined to be “insane,” whichever time frame comes first.
How Much Compensation is Available for a Surgical Mistake?
There is no set amount of compensation paid to surgical mistake victims. Rather, there are specific factors that can influence insurance settlement amounts or jury verdict award amounts. These factors can include, but are not limited to:
- The overall severity of the complications arising due to the error
- How long it takes a person to recover from the mistake
- The level of any long-term disability caused by the surgical error
- Insurance policy limitations
One complicating factor when calculating compensation after a surgical error is determining the extent of the long-term complications. Due to the nature of long-term consequences following a surgical error, the overall long-term devastation may not be known right away, particularly at the time a settlement or jury verdict award is rendered.
When you work with a skilled malpractice attorney, you will have an advocate who enlists assistance from trusted medical and economic professionals. These individuals can help explain to insurance carriers or a medical malpractice jury the need for additional compensation in anticipation of these long-term consequences.
Additionally, an attorney will examine how the surgical error has affected a person’s ability to earn wages. In some cases, individuals will no longer be able to work due to the surgical mistake. This would constitute a total loss of income that should be accounted for in a settlement or jury verdict. However, there may be times when a person can still work but at a lower income earning capacity. This lower earning capacity should also be taken into account so that a person can receive wage replacement to ensure they stay at the same income level they would otherwise be at had the surgical error not occurred.
Who Can be Held Liable?
Ultimately, a trusted medical malpractice attorney should examine the case and help determine which party or parties should be held liable for the surgical mistake. Often, there are parties other than a surgeon or doctor who can be held liable. Some of the most commonly held liable parties associated with a surgical error include:
- Physician assistants
- Nurse aides
- Medical facilities
- Medical device manufacturers
Contact a Surgical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the negligent actions of a surgeon or other medical professional, we encourage you to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A surgical error lawyer can examine your case and help determine the best steps moving forward for your particular situation.