Surgical Error Malpractice Claims in Missouri

When a surgical error happens because of the negligence of a doctor, this is known as medical malpractice. Doctors and medical professionals receive specialized training that allows them to make the correct decisions while performing surgical procedures, but unfortunately, the doctor or medical professional that you relied on did not. Because of their negligence, you or someone you care for is now suffering because of a surgical error.

Dealing with an issue as complex as a surgical error malpractice case can be intimidating when you aren’t aware of the laws and statutes surrounding a surgical error claim. To ensure that you or your loved one receives the level of legal care and guidance that you deserve, you need a surgical error malpractice lawyer. The St. Louis surgical error malpractice lawyers of The Dixon Injury Firm are prepared to fight on your behalf to ensure that you and your loved ones get the justice and recovery that you deserve for your surgical error malpractice claim.

Call (314) 208-2808 now to schedule your free consultation.

Medical Providers Must Uphold a “Duty of Care”

The health care system is supposed to generally “first, do no harm.” Everyone understands that surgery is risky, and things do not always go as planned. Surgeons and hospitals are liable, however, when they fail to meet the basic standard or “duty of care” for their profession.

When we get sick or injured, we trust in doctors because we believe what they tell us about or ailments. We believe that through their years of study and practice, that they will know best how to treat our illnesses and that they will have our best interests in mind when it comes to the proper medical procedures for our illnesses. When a doctor’s training is complete, they must take an oath known as the Hippocratic Oath, in which they state that they will prescribe only beneficial treatments according to their abilities and judgments, that they will refrain from causing harm or hurt, and that they will live an exemplary personal and professional life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

When you or someone you care for has been injured because of a surgical error, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. No surgical error should ever go unchallenged, and our St. Louis surgical error malpractice lawyers are prepared to fight on behalf of you or your loved one. We understand how families suffer because of surgical error injuries, and we are dedicated to ensuring that you or your loved one are properly cared for throughout the surgical error malpractice case.

A Shocking Number of Mistakes

Surgical and hospitalization errors were not frequently talked about until the Institute of Medicine released a 1999 report called “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.” This report was a huge wake-up call for doctors and hospitals around the country. It found that somewhere between 44,000 and 98,000 people were dying each year from preventable medical errors. These errors included some relatively understandable issues like surgical injuries and pressure ulcers caused by restraints, but the report also included shocking mistakes like wrong-site surgery and mistaken patient identities.

More recent estimates seem to show the problem has not gotten any better. A 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that 210,000 to 400,000 deaths per year were associated with preventable harm in hospitals. Ten to twenty times as many patients suffered serious harm. It is a sobering assessment that thousands of people are dying in hospitals where they are supposed to be getting better.

So many of these surgical errors can be classified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “never events” (meaning they should never happen), like wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure errors. Surgeons have been known to remove a body part on the right side instead of the left, or even heart surgery on the wrong patient. These events are relatively rare, but most hospitals will make these types of mistakes every few years.

Our St. Louis surgical error attorneys are standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (314) 208-2808.

Common Types of Surgical Errors

A surgical error that can be considered malpractice occurs when a surgeon performing the medical procedure fails to operate within the appropriate standards of care required by the surgery being performed. An error that leads to your harm is the defining piece of a surgical error malpractice case. If the surgeon and their team operated within the appropriate standards of care for your operation, and you were harmed anyway, you might not be able to recover for the malpractice.

Our surgical error attorneys have identified these common surgical error mistakes:

  • Cutting a Nerve: If a surgeon is performing an operation and cuts a nerve that is not involved in the surgery, that is a surgical error. The damaged nerve will continue to cause pain and discomfort until it is repaired if it can be.
  • Anesthesia Error: Anesthesia errors occur when too much anesthesia is used and you become sick, too little is used and you experience the pain of the surgery, or the delivery of the anesthesia is delayed and you experience pain from the operation until the anesthesia kicks in.
  • Wrong Operation Site: When a surgical team operates on an area of the body other than the one they are supposed to, this is a negligent and serious surgical error. This type of incredible error does unfortunately happen. Operating on the wrong area can create further medical problems.
  • Wrong Organ Operation: If surgeons operate on the wrong organ, they can cause incredible amounts of damage to a healthy organ. These types of surgical errors can cause further serious medical issues.
  • Instrument or Foreign Object Left in Body: This type of error occurs when the surgical team leaves either an instrument in your body, such as a scalpel or another tool, or a foreign object other than a tool is left in your body. Leaving a foreign object inside a patient can cause serious health issues.
  • Wrong Patient: While this type of surgical error is extremely rare, it does happen. When an error of this magnitude happens, it is incredibly important to retain an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Doctors and physicians should never operate on a patient who they are not supposed to.
  • Infection Resulting from Surgery: If an infection arises from the surgery, and is because of an error caused during the surgery, this is a surgical error and can be litigated.
  • Unnecessary Surgery: If you had a medical issue that didn’t require surgery, but your doctor or physician insisted that surgery was needed and they knew it was not, this is a negligent and serious surgical error. The surgery you did not need may have caused further medical issues.
  • Fractured Bones: If after the surgery you discovered that you have broken bones that were not part of the surgical operation or the procedure for the operation, this is a surgical error and can be considered a negligent act.

Most doctors strive to provide their patients with the medical care they need and deserve. When a medical error arises from a surgery, and a doctor knowingly operated outside of the normal procedures of the surgery, this is a negligent act and can be considered a surgical error malpractice claim.

Unfair Billing in the Aftermath of a Mistake

The Washington Post recently examined just how egregiously many health care providers act after making a mistake. The paper gives an example of a patient that had his colon accidentally punctured during a routine colonoscopy. That patient then needed emergency surgery to fix the problem caused by a medical error. Shockingly, the patent was forced to pay for all of the follow-up care, over $600,000 (he lost his health insurance, and paid his life savings to the hospital). Some healthcare providers do the right thing and pay for care that is their fault, but this is not universal within the industry because many companies do not want to admit fault.

As the Washington Post story detailed, many health care providers will hide behind the fact that they warned a patient that there were risks to a procedure. The patient that was injured by the colonoscopy, for example, was warned that something could go wrong. That does not necessarily excuse mistakes that are made, though. The health care provider must always meet the minimum standard of care expected from a professional in their situation. If the punctured colon was injured because the doctor failed to follow proper precautions and made surgical and hospitalization errors, then the doctor should be held liable.

Surgical Errors Should Never Happen

Doctors and physicians train for years before they can be certified to perform operations of any type. The nurses and physicians assisting the doctor must also go through strenuous training before they are allowed to assist in an operation. Beyond the individuals performing the operation, there are checklists for every surgery that must be met and performed. Every step must be taken, and every check must be met. Therefore, a surgical error should never happen because the checks and safety protocols put in place to deter surgical errors are comprehensive and complete. B

Yet, they still happen. What should you do immediately following a surgical error? Here are a few steps our surgical error lawyers recommend you take when preparing for a surgical error malpractice claim:

  • Record the names of all of the physicians involved in your surgery
  • Have another qualified physician certify your surgical error claim
  • Do not take any steps that can further complicate the surgical error
  • Collect all files and notes regarding your surgical error
  • Contact our surgical error malpractice lawyers

Timing is essential in a surgical error claim. Doctors and physicians may try to cover their errors by destroying or altering documents, and the sooner our St. Louis medical malpractice lawyers can begin their case the better.

Why Should You Choose the St. Louis Surgical Error Attorneys of Dixon Law to Represent Your Surgical Error Claim?

The time allowed under Missouri law to file a surgical error malpractice lawsuit is limited. Generally, a surgical error malpractice case must be filed within two years of the date of occurrence. If the surgical error claim involves a foreign object that was left in the body, the suit must be filed within two years of when the object was discovered.

If a loved one dies as a result of the surgical error, Missouri law requires that the wrongful death lawsuit be filed within three years of the death.

Within 90 days of filing a surgical error malpractice lawsuit in Missouri, the plaintiff must file an expert affidavit stating that a written opinion has been obtained from a legally qualified healthcare provider regarding the defendant’s negligence. The expert must conclude that the defendant failed to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful healthcare provider would have under similar circumstances and that such failure to use such reasonable care directly caused or directly contributed to cause the damages claimed in the petition (RSMo. Section 538.225 [2009]).

If you or someone you love has experienced any of the above types of surgical errors, or one we haven’t listed, it is important to speak with our St. Louis surgical error malpractice lawyers immediately. The faster you contact our lawyers, the faster we can begin collecting evidence to protect your claim.

Compensation available in surgical error malpractice lawsuits is often divided into compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages typically cover such items as past and future medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are awarded in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is considered willful, wanton, or malicious.

We offer free consultations to all surgical error injury victims and the families of those wrongfully killed. We understand that you are going through a hard time and are here to reassure you that you have options. Let us handle the legal aspects of your case so you can focus on recovering from your traumatic and unnecessary surgical error. To discuss your case, contact Chris Dixon and the surgical error attorneys of The Dixon Injury Firm as soon as possible to prevent evidence from being lost or destroyed.