Patient rights are the fundamental standards of behavior between patients and medical professionals, as well as the organizations and individuals who support them. Any person who has asked to be evaluated or is currently undergoing an evaluation by a healthcare expert is considered a patient. Hospitals, healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and other entities covering medical expenses are considered medical caretakers.
A doctor or surgeon is legally required to obtain some form of consent, either in writing or oral form, before proceeding with a procedure. Failed surgeries happen when a surgeon makes a surgical error, often leaving victims with pain, inconvenience, and financial expense. Medical malpractice law states that if an injury or death occurs because of a surgical error, and negligence or inattention caused the error, the victim can file a surgery error lawsuit and recover damages if the error could have been prevented. For instance, as a victim of an anesthesia error, you might experience many complications for which you can seek compensation by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Basic rights of a surgical victim that you should know about
Surgical rights are protected under federal law, including the Patient’s Bill of Rights and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Here are some rights a surgical victim should know:
- The right to informed consent: You have the right to be informed about your medical condition, the surgical procedure, potential risks and benefits, and other treatment options before you consent to undergo surgery.
- The right to access medical records: You have the right to access your medical records and receive copies of them upon request. This includes your surgical records, which can help you better understand the details of your surgery.
- The right to confidentiality: Your medical information is private and should be kept confidential. Only those involved in your care should have access to your medical information unless you consent for others to receive it.
- The right to refuse treatment: You have the right to refuse treatment, including surgery, at any time, as long as you are of sound mind and not a danger to yourself or others.
- The right to pain management: You have the right to receive appropriate pain management before, during, and after surgery.
- The right to be treated with respect: You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of your age, gender, race, or any other personal characteristic.
- The right to a safe environment: You have the right to receive care in a safe and clean environment, free from harm and infection.
- The right to participate in decision-making: You have the right to participate in decisions about your care and to be informed of the expected outcomes of the surgery.
Examples of surgical errors that can result in failed surgery
Some examples of surgical errors that cause a failed surgery include:
- Wrong-site surgery, in which the doctor performs surgery on an incorrect part of the body.
- Wrong patient surgery, where the surgeon operates on the wrong person, often meaning that the patient who needed that particular surgery did not get it.
- Damage is caused by surgical instruments or tools being left inside the body after surgery is completed.
- Anesthesia errors – either too much or too little anesthesia is used.
- Injuries to nerves or other internal organs when the surgeon causes damage with their instruments.
- Infection is caused by instruments that were not cleaned or sanitized properly.
- Unnecessary surgery that a patient did not need and ended up harming them.
- Surgical complications
- Unnecessary surgery
- Injuries sustained during surgery
- Leaving a foreign object inside a patient
Are surgical errors considered medical malpractice?
Failure to succeed during surgery is not always misconduct. A surgical error must be caused by a medical expert acting negligently in order for it to be deemed medical malpractice and for someone to be held accountable. The defendant’s actions or inactions must typically be proven to have violated the standard of care by a medical expert in the same field as the doctor who is accused of malpractice.
Medical malpractice laws cover a wide range of scenarios beyond just surgical mistakes. Medical malpractice can occur when a healthcare provider fails to provide the expected level of care, resulting in harm to the patient. Some common types of medical malpractice claims include:
- Misdiagnosis: When a healthcare provider fails to correctly diagnose a medical condition, resulting in delayed or incorrect treatment, it may be considered medical malpractice.
- Postponed prognosis: If a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a condition in a timely manner, it may be considered medical malpractice, particularly if the delay leads to further harm or complications.
- Not treating a birth injury: If a healthcare provider fails to properly treat or prevent birth injuries, it may be considered medical malpractice.
- Liability for medical devices: If a medical device or product causes harm to a patient due to a defect or other issue, the manufacturer or healthcare provider may be liable for medical malpractice.
How do I prove medical malpractice?
A compelling case for medical malpractice must be made in order for the lawsuit to succeed. The patient’s medical record is one of the most important bits of evidence in a medical malpractice case. It will detail their health prior to the allegedly negligent operation or other events, as well as any diagnoses or treatments given.
Documentation of the doctor-patient relationship, such as paperwork in your medical file demonstrating their diagnosis or treatment of you, will serve as additional significant proof. You will need expert evidence that the treatment fell short of the standard of care in order to prove the doctor was careless.
What should I do first after a failed surgery?
There are some crucial steps you should take when suing after surgery. First, communicate with your physician and allow them to fix their mistake. Document any symptoms, pain, additional appointments, and costs associated with the harm you allege. Keep detailed records and notes of all conversations with your doctors. Document the moment you knew or suspected something was wrong.
If you suspect something went wrong during your surgery, and you are physically able to, get a second opinion from another physician. Another physician may guide whether the first doctor was negligent. They may also be essential witnesses if the case proceeds to trial.