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Are Surgical Injuries Considered Medical Malpractice?

It’s hard to believe, but many surgical errors are the result of doctor negligence; however, not all mishaps that occur during surgery are considered medical malpractice. So how do you know if the error that occurred during your surgery would be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Any time there is an unexpected outcome from surgery, it is always worthwhile to investigate whether you were injured due to negligence. Here are some examples of negligence that could indicate medical malpractice:

  • Surgery on the wrong side of the body
  • Leaving a surgical instrument in the body after surgery (e.g., sponges, retractors, forceps, or surgical towels)
  • Injuries to organs or vessels close to the surgical site
  • Failure to recognize post-operative bleeding

Most injuries that occur during surgery involve some type of negligence that could amount to malpractice. Even anesthesiologists can make mistakes during surgery that can lead to patient harm. If an anesthesiologist is guilty of administering too much anesthesia or not monitoring a patient’s vitals during surgery, the anesthesiologist would be guilty of medical negligence.

So when would a surgical injury NOT be considered medical malpractice?

To determine when a surgical error would not necessarily be considered malpractice, the act in question would be compared to what another competent surgeon would have done under the same set of circumstances.

Here are some examples when a surgical error would probably NOT be considered malpractice:

  • Less than favorable outcome. If someone didn’t like the look of a scar, for instance, or if someone didn’t want a C-section but a surgeon performed one anyway because it was medically necessary, malpractice would be very difficult, if not impossible, to prove.
  • No improvement. Sometimes people undergo back surgeries or other types of surgeries to feel better but they end up in the same condition. This type of outcome is generally not malpractice because surgeons warn their patients about this potential outcome ahead of time.

Before determining whether you do or don’t have a medical malpractice case following a surgical mishap, please talk to an attorney about your specific situation. You can find out about your rights and get other questions answered in a free no-obligation consultation. Call or email us today.