We were all taught at an early age that “Everyone makes mistakes.” Though this may be a comforting thought for a child struggling to learn the academic and social ways of the world, it is by no means reassuring to patients about to go under the surgical knife. While surgeons are, by and large, extremely meticulous, and though safety protocols designed to prevent such surgical errors are in place in all hospitals, surgical mistakes do happen, sometimes with devastating consequences. Sadly, 33 percent of the patients who have suffered through surgical mistakes are permanently injured.
If you have been the victim of a surgical mistake that has caused you serious harm, in addition to remedies for your injuries, you are entitled to substantial legal compensation. If you are located in New Jersey, you are fortunate to have the topflight medical malpractice attorneys of Nagel Rice LLP close by. Nagel Rice has a well-earned reputation for consummate skill, compassion, and, most of all, successful outcomes. As a matter of fact, our practice has won over $300 million for its medical malpractice and personal injury clients.
Surgial Mistakes: Wrong-Site, Wrong-Procedure, Wrong-Patient Errors (WSPEs)
Horror stories of WSPEs abound. Most of us have heard about the woman who had her healthy breast mistakenly removed instead of the cancerous one, or the man whose spinal surgery took place on the wrong part of the spine. There are even cases in which a patient has had a kidney removed when he was in the hospital for prostate surgery — all because his last name was the same as a patient in renal failure.
WSPEs always indicate a systemic, not just a personal, error. It is to prevent such catastrophes that patients are asked to repeat their names and birth dates frequently while awaiting surgical procedures and why their limbs or other body parts may be marked with an indelible marker during intake while they are fully conscious. In spite of all such precautions, terrible errors manage to occur.
Other Common Types of Surgical Mistakes
Even if the surgeon performs the correct procedure on the right body part of the right patient, there is still room for dangerous error. Other common surgical mistakes include:
- Leaving surgical instruments or other objects inside the body
- Using unsterilized surgical instruments or operating in an unsanitary environment
- resulting in a critical infection in the patient
- Damaging organs or nerves adjacent to the surgical site with a scissors, scalpel or laser
- Administrating anesthesia improperly
Anesthesia is a delicate matter. Too little and the patient may awaken during surgery, feeling unbearable pain but unable to speak — a true nightmare. Too much anesthetic, on the other hand, may lead to brain damage or even death.
Reasons for Surgical Errors
There are many reasons for surgical errors, not all of them the fault of the surgeon. In some cases, as mentioned earlier, poor sanitation or ineffective maintenance of air, heat, or water supplies may result in preventable infections. Such infections may lead to organ damage, chronic illness, or death. It is also possible that other members of the surgical team may be poorly trained or negligent, interfering with the efficiency of the operation.
Let’s face it — Though we may prefer to think of healthcare professionals as perpetually fastidious, they have the same weaknesses and flaws as the rest of us. On the day of a scheduled surgery, a doctor, nurse, or other hospital employees may have a stomachache, a migraine, have slept poorly, be dealing with a difficult marriage, financial problems, or a sick child.
Though these everyday occurrences are unavoidable, there is not much room for error in the operating room. This is the reason that rigid hospital regulations are in place. The strict protocol is meant to ensure that everyone on the team is part of a system designed to provide checks and balances. Unfortunately, no matter how tight the ship, surgical mistakes can never be totally eliminated.
Compensation You Deserve if You Have Been the Victim of a Surgical Mistake
As a patient who has suffered a surgical mistake, you are entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.
- Economic damages consist of medical bills (including any bills for corrective surgery) rehabilitative care, lost income (present and future), and long-term care if you remain chronically disabled.
- Non-economic damages include compensation for intangibles, such as physical pain, emotional suffering, disfigurement, diminished quality of life or shortened life expectancy.
If there are exacerbating circumstances involved in the surgical mistake — if, for example, the surgeon was impaired by drugs or alcohol while operating — you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are crafted to punish the offender’s egregious behavior and to prevent others from engaging in similar misconduct.
Why You Need Nagel Rice
The highly experienced, savvy surgical mistake attorneys at Nagel Rice are well-prepared to fight for your right to receive every dollar of damages you deserve. We are well aware that in order to obtain an amount in keeping with your extensive trauma, we must convince the court that:
There is evidence of negligence on the part of the medical professionals involved that deviated from accepted medical practice
That you, the victim, have suffered serious harm as a result
In order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Jersey, our attorneys must also bring in a physician in the appropriate field of medicine to testify that the treatment you received constitutes medical malpractice.
Our surgical mistake attorneys are adept at evaluating medical malpractice. They are also well-schooled in explaining technical medical concepts in easily understandable terms. We always intently focused on your needs and how they can best be served. In many situations, we are able to receive a just settlement through negotiation alone, but make no mistake — if the defense attorneys are obstinate, our aggressive litigators who will do whatever it takes to win your case. Contact Nagel Rice by phone or through our website to make an appointment for a free consultation. We will never charge you a fee until we win your case.
Nagel Rice LLP helps their clients with their surgical mistake claims throughout New Jersey including Bergen County, Essex County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Passaic County, and Sussex County.