Surgical Error Lawyer: How a Washington D.C. Lawyer Can Help You
Injured during surgery? Are you looking for a surgical error lawyer to help you with your case? We can help.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a surgical error, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Examples of a surgical error include:
- Surgery on the wrong body part
- Mistakes made with anesthesia administration
- Gauze or instruments left inside the body
- Damage to healthy tissue or organs
- Other error that resulted in prolonged or permanent illness or loss of body function
You can also meet with one of our skilled attorneys at Regan Zambri Long to find out if you qualify for compensation after a surgical error.
Are You Ready to Speak with a Washington D.C. Surgical Error Attorney?
Schedule your free consultation today. Call (202) 960-4534 or complete our online form to start.
Surgical Error Considerations
All medical procedures have some sort of risk associated with them. For some patients, that can make it difficult to know whether they’ve experienced a surgical error or just an expected, inherent risk.
A surgical error is often defined as “a preventable mistake.” This means that whatever happened was not a known or expected risk of the procedure. Rather, the error resulted from someone’s negligence.
In addition, the surgeon, hospital, or medical facility may try to downplay what happened to you. Amongst some doctors and surgeons, there can be a culture of “cover-ups.” Health professionals may be hesitant to speak out against their colleagues for fear of job loss, demotion, or a hostile work environment. Junior doctors may also be intimidated or even feel threatened by their senior colleagues.
If you suspect you experienced a surgical error, no matter how minor, it is worth speaking with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. After hearing the details of your specific situation, we will let you know if you have a legal case. Contact a surgical error lawyer at Regan Zambri Long today for a free case review.
Common Surgical Errors Examples
While this is not a comprehensive list, some of the more common types of surgical errors that can occur are:
- Mistakes made during anesthesia administration/Administering too little anesthesia. The patient may be conscious and even remember the surgery
- Administering too much anesthesia. The patient may have difficulty “coming to” after surgery or experience a lack of oxygen.
- Accidentally cutting or slicing a part of the body during surgery, including an organ that is adjacent to the surgical site.
- Surgical instruments, gauze, bandages, or other items left inside of the body.
- Inadequate cleaning of the surgical site leading to post-operative infection.
- Not operating when a diagnosis has proven that surgery was needed
- Circumstances that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) formally call “WSPEs”:
- Wrong site. For example, a surgery that should have been performed on the left hand was done on the right hand.
- Wrong procedure. A paperwork or medical record error could lead to a patient undergoing the wrong surgery.
- Wrong patient. Similar patient names could cause a patient to undergo a procedure that was meant for another person.
Some surgical errors may be quickly caught and remedied. Or, you may not find out there was a mistake until much later on. And for other patients, the surgical error is immediately noticeable and will have lifelong consequences.
The Devastating Consequences of a Surgical Error
A mistake made during an operation can result in:
- Loss of a healthy body part, including fingers, toes, arms, and legs
- Brain damage due to a lack of oxygen
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Muscle damage
- Cardiac arrest
- Lung damage
- Injury to a healthy organ
- PTSD and other emotional trauma that stems from waking up during or remembering a surgery
Patients undergo surgery expecting to get better and have improved health. No one should ever have to suffer the devastating consequences of a surgical error.
How Common are Surgical Errors?
Surgical errors are often referred to as “never” events. Meaning, they should never, ever happen. Even one surgical error is one too many.
However, a medical study released in 2021, Medical Error Reduction and Prevention, found that:
“At least 4000 surgical errors occur each year in the United States each year.”
“Most medical malpractice claims in hospitals are related to surgical errors[.]”
“Robotic surgery results in an increase in accidental hemorrhage caused by lacerations and injury to surrounding tissues.”
Understanding how and why surgical errors happen is key to preventing them.
Why Do Surgical Errors Happen?
Many surgical errors are the result of human error. Someone made a mistake or they failed to take necessary action. In either circumstance, a trusted surgeon or medical professional didn’t do their job and now you are suffering the consequences.
Surgical errors can arise when there is:
- An improperly trained, under-educated, or otherwise incompetent surgeon or operating staff member.
- A lack of standardized rules and regulations, either hospital-wide or amongst the operating room staff.
- A lack of communication between the surgeon and patient, or between the surgeon as well as the operating room staff.
- Inadequate staffing levels.
- Overworked staff, working too many shifts or days in a row.
- The use of alcohol or other drugs amongst doctors, surgeons, and staff.
- A time crunch that results in rushed procedures, as other patients wait to get into the overbooked operation room.
- A distraction caused by cell phones or electronic devices.
- Incomplete or missing imaging and lab work
- A staff member who relies on their memory instead of reading documentation
- A mislabeled specimen
- More than one surgeon performing an operation
Surgical errors can be a complex matter. It is possible that more than one factor is at play when operating room errors occur.
To complicate matters, there may also be the prevailing attitude that a surgeon should never be questioned. Operating room staff may notice an error or discrepancy during the procedure. However, they may be “shot down” by the surgeon or even feel uneasy pointing out errors for fear of retaliation.
Why You Need a Surgical Error Attorney in Washington DC
The ability to prove that you were the victim of a surgical error is difficult without legal representation. Doctors may be hesitant to speak out against one other. Staff may fear losing their jobs or even their professional licenses if they admit a mistake.
The negligent medical facility may try to convince you that what happened was an expected or routine risk when in fact it was not. Hospital administrators do not want the negative attention that a lawsuit can bring. Their reputation, as well as finances, are on the line.
A lawyer who is experienced with medical cases knows what questions to ask. They know what it takes for paperwork, documentation, as well as eyewitness testimony to be released. A subpoena, search warrant, or other types of legal action may need to take place to discover the full nature of your surgical error.
At Regan Zambri Long, our attorneys will help you seek the compensation that you deserve. Many personal injury cases like surgical errors settle outside of court. We are prepared and experienced with going to trial if that means getting the best results for you.
How Much is the Average Surgical Error Settlement?
The amount of compensation that you may be entitled to depends on the nature of the error, the severity of its impact, as well as how the error affects your life going forward. You can expect to receive a settlement that includes:
- Waiver of medical fees. You should not have to pay for the hospital stay or surgery that injured you. You should also receive compensation for any future medical costs that are related to your surgical error.
- Loss of wages. If your injury keeps you out of work, you and your family should not have to worry about getting by. If you are no longer able to work or have a diminished capacity to hold a job, those factors may affect your settlement.
- Noneconomic damages. Commonly called pain and suffering. This includes physical pain as well as emotional distress.
The most serious surgical errors result in death or your loved one needing 24/7 care. The gravity of these types of outcomes should be reflected in your settlement. With these cases, you or your family may also receive compensation for:
- Loss of consortium. This type of reimbursement takes into account the loss of love and affection, parental guidance for minor children, spousal companionship, as well as any tasks involved in running your household.
- Wrongful death. When your loved one loses their life because of a surgical error, grieving family members deserve to be adequately compensated.
Our recent case results speak for themselves. We work hard to pursue justice for our clients.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Surgical Error Claim?
Under most jurisdictions, you have a limited amount of time to pursue a legal claim for a surgical error. The Washington D.C. statute of limitations sets forth the amount of time you have to pursue such a legal case.
Typically, the clock starts ticking the day the surgical error occurred or when the patient was made aware of/discovered the error. However, there are many factors at play in surgical error cases, including if death resulted.
As soon as you suspect that you or a loved one were the victims of a surgical error, you should contact an experienced surgical error attorney.
How Long Will it Take to Win My Surgical Error Case?
It is difficult to know ahead of time how long a surgical error case will take. Oftentimes, the more serious your injuries are, the longer your case will take to complete.
Other factors that impact how long a case can take include:
- Whether or not the case goes to trial
- What legal actions have to take place to gather all of the evidence
- How long it takes to adequately assess the full scope of your injuries
It is not unusual for a surgical error case to take a year or more to conclude. Rest assured, our attorneys are in it for the long haul.
When you hire us, we’ll be with you every step of the way. And because you don’t have to pay us until after you receive your settlement, you can receive legal representation without incurring more bills.
How Can I Prevent Myself or a Loved One from Being the Victim of a Surgical Error?
It may seem that preventing a surgical error is completely out of a patient’s control, but it is not. There are some steps that you can take prior to undergoing surgery.
- Read online reviews for both the surgeon and the hospital.
- Check to see if your surgeon has had any disciplinary action taken. CBS News has compiled a list of how to look up a doctor’s license information in all 50 states and the District of Colombia.
- If you have a friend or loved one who has had the same procedure, ask them about their experience and for any recommendations.
- At any point during your medical care, speak up if something doesn’t seem right. Medical staff isn’t always correct.
- Make sure you understand any expected risks that are associated with your specific procedure.
- Keep copies of all of the paperwork that you receive during your hospital stay.
Patients have the right to seek a second opinion, choose to receive care at another facility, as well as have all of their questions answered before surgery.
Are You Ready to Pursue a Surgical Error Legal Case? Call Regan Zambri Long Today, (202) 960-4534.
At Regan Zambri Long, our entire practice is dedicated to pursuing justice for our clients who were negligently injured. And that includes medical malpractice cases like surgical errors.
The attorneys at our firm have over 100 years of combined legal experience. In fact, Regan Zambri Long often receives referrals from other firms. Some surgical error cases are expensive to pursue, both in terms of finances as well as resources.
And when you trust us to handle your case, you pay nothing upfront. We work on a contingency fee basis. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case review.