When you seek any type of medical attention, you expect that the medical professionals you encounter will be knowledgeable, courteous, and well-versed in their particular branch of care. This is not an unreasonable expectation, especially in an operating room. Unfortunately, mistakes and accidents do arise during surgical procedures, which can often lead to severe and even fatal complications for a patient.

This problem is so rampant that the United States Centers for Disease Control now lists medical errors as the third leading cause of death. If you or a loved one suffered a severe injury due to a surgeon’s mistake, call a Michigan surgical errors lawyer to discuss your legal options.

You should not have to shoulder the costs you have incurred due to a medical professional’s carelessness. By working with a dedicated attorney, you could have help to understand your legal options and decide if pursuing a civil lawsuit is in your best interests.

Common Types of Surgical Mistakes

Because of the delicate and precise nature of most surgical procedures, any errors made by a surgeon could result in severe complications and bodily harm to a patient. Common types of surgical mistakes include:

  • Performing the wrong procedure or operation
  • Leaving objects such as instruments or sponges in surgical patients
  • Bowel perforations and organ punctures causing leaks
  • Cutting the wrong nerve, artery, vein
  • Operating on the wrong surgical site or the wrong patient
  • Anesthesia errors and mistakes causing harm
  • Failing to timely recognize injuries caused during a surgery
  • Not properly treating and repairing intraoperative mistakes
  • Properly obtain the patient’s informed consent to surgery
  • Properly diagnosing and treating post-operative infections
  • Properly performing post-operative examinations

No matter the medical specialty of a surgeon, they are beholden to certain standards of care owed to each patient they operate on. If they do not comply with this standard of care—by, for example, making a mistake during a procedure—they might be considered negligent and this  could give rise to a lawsuit on the basis of malpractice.

However, establishing that a care professional was at fault is a complex and nuanced legal process. A knowledgeable Michigan surgical errors lawyer will investigate the circumstances of their losses and determine if they were caused by a surgeon’s mistakes.  If a surgical error resulted in harm, the patient can file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Objects Left in Patients After Surgery

Unfortunately, objects left in patients after surgery is one of the more common errors that arises during procedures throughout the state. When this happens, a victim might suffer severe complications and even have to undergo additional—and otherwise unnecesary—procedures.

While there are no federal reporting requirements when a hospital leaves a surgical object in patients after surgery, some research suggests it happens between 4,500 and 6,000 times a year. Due to the volume of these occurrences, electronic devices started to be attached to sponges in order to track them during a procedure. Unfortunately, even with these devices in circulation, objects left in patients is still a common risk after surgery.

For many hospitals, lost sponges and other surgical items are not considered a pressing concern. Because symptoms often do not occur for months, even years, many of the cases are never tracked back to the institution where they originated. This means the people who are responsible may not realize they have a problem.

Wrong Patient Procedures

Few medical errors are as vivid and terrifying as those that involve patients who have undergone surgery on the wrong body part, undergone the incorrect procedure, or had a procedure intended for another patient. These “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors” (WSPEs) are rightly termed “never events” errors, meaning that they should never occur and indicate serious underlying safety problems.

A classic case of wrong patient surgery involved a patient who underwent a cardiac procedure intended for another patient with a similar last name. Unfortunately, one of the most devastating types of surgery is when two patients get mixed up due to a negligent medical professional and a patient receives a surgical procedure he or she should have never gotten in the first place. Some cases are extreme and tragic. No matter how severe the results of a wrong patient surgery, however, a caring surgical errors lawyer could help a victim to seek compensation.

Neurosurgeon Errors

Neurosurgeons are physicians specializing in brain and spinal surgery. A neurosurgeon specializes in diagnosing and treating illnesses and conditions that relate to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. They provide non-operative and surgical treatment to patients of all ages.

A neurosurgeon’s job is very difficult and requires highly trained and highly qualified individuals. The neurosurgeon a person chooses will be an extremely important decision, especially due to the delicate nature of these procedures. Unfortunately, there are occasions when patients suffer injuries due to a neurosurgeon’s mistake. In these situations, the injured patient may be able to file a neurosurgeon malpractice lawsuit.

Surgical Fires in the Operating Room

Surgery fires are much more common than patients are led to believe by hospital and doctors. In fact, many hospitals do not even provide high-risk patients with information about operating room fires and burn injuries. Surgical fires are fires that occur in the operation on or near a patient who is undergoing a surgical procedure or medical procedure. These fires occur when three elements are present. These elements include an ignition source, a fuel source, and an oxidizer.

Ignition sources include electrosurgical units, lasers, and fiberoptic light sources. Fuel sources include surgical drapes, alcohol-based skin preparation, and even the patient. Oxidizers include oxygen, nitrous oxide, and room air. The FDA has information to the public on surgical fires in the operating room. This includes other factors that also increase the risk of fire. For example, alcohol-based skin preparation agents are very flammable when still wet. The placement of surgical drapes—such as when they are placed in a way that allows oxygen to pool under them—and the handling of ignition sources may also increase the chance that a surgical fire will occur.

Statute of Limitations

According to Michigan Compiled Laws § 600.5805, those wishing to file a surgical error lawsuit need to do so within two years of the date that the injury occurred.  This period can be extended in cases involving minor children and those resulting in the death of the patient.

There is also an exception to this deadline for patients who have a surgical object left inside of them. If the two years have elapsed, an injured patient has an additional six months from the time that the object is discovered or when it reasonably should have been discovered to pursue compensation.

Affidavit of Merit

In addition to filing on time, any case must include an affidavit of merit. Under Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.2169, every claim on the basis of malpractice mandates that a qualified healthcare professional sign this affidavit. A qualified healthcare professional is defined by state law as someone who operates or teaches within the same medical specialty as the defendant.

Therefore, if the defendant carries board certifications, the qualified healthcare professional is required under the law to have the same ones. This affidavit of merit should contain:

  • The standard of care related to the case
  • That the defendant violated that particular standard of care
  • What the defendant should have done to not violate the standard of care
  • How the violation of duty caused injuries to the plaintiff

This affidavit is important in giving the case validity in the courts, as well as to help cut down on frivolous legal pursuits. To this end, a tenacious surgical errors lawyer could work to identify an applicable care professional and obtain the required documents needed to file a valid claim in Michigan.

Help from a Michigan Surgical Errors Attorney Might Help

If you or a loved one was injured after undergoing surgery, you have legal options that could be explained by a compassionate Michigan surgical errors lawyer. After a botched procedure—such as a wrong patient surgery or object left in a patient after surgery—you are likely to be traumatized and unaware of the extent of your rights.

A skillful attorney could answer your questions and shoulder the burdens of a claim, so that you can focus on your recovery. To schedule a consultation, call Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. today.

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