It is natural for an individual to feel anxious before going in for an operation. The thought of everything that could go wrong can be unsettling. Yet, patients may be put at ease knowing their surgeon is well educated and experienced and the hospital has safety procedures in place to protect them. Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes happen and procedures are bypassed. When this happens, a serious surgical error can occur, leaving a patient severely injured.
One of these incidents happened recently near Daytona Beach. There, a woman who had vascular disease consented to have a vascular graft operation on her left leg. The night prior to the surgery, the doctor discussed the operation with the patient and marked her left leg. However, once the operation began the next day, a nurse anesthetist noticed the surgeon was operating on the wrong leg. Once told of the error, the doctor proceeded to operate on the proper leg, but afterwards tried to obtain consent from the patient for the operation on the wrong leg. The state has since investigated the incident and found the hospital erred in performing the wrong-site surgery and for failing to report it in a timely manner.
A surgical error can cause severe damage to a patient. Such an incident may leave a patient with unnecessary pain, scars, a permanent disability, or, in the most tragic instances, dead. For this reason, strict measures must be taken against negligent professionals in hopes of preventing these instances from occurring in the future. Additionally, legal action may be taken in an attempt to recover compensation for personal injuries.
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit requires a showing of two elements. First, a victim is required to prove the doctor owed a duty of care and that duty was breached by some sort of negligence. When it comes to surgical errors, this negligence can take the form of operating on the wrong limb, operating on the wrong patient, or nicking an organ while operating. Second, a victim must prove the breach of duty caused the victim's injuries.
If these factors are proven, the victim may obtain awards for her damages. This money can be used to pay off medical expenses, compensate for pain and suffering endured as a result of the incident, and pay for any wages lost from missed work. These awards help the victim reach the fullest recovery possible while punishing negligent doctors. Perhaps then the patient can move on with her life knowing that she has made a difference by helping ensure the safety of future patients.
Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Patient at Halifax Hospital has surgery on wrong leg," Marni Jameson, Aug. 15, 2013