“It’s not brain surgery” has become a common catchphrase to explain that something isn’t complex. Brain surgery is rightly believed to complicated. Brain surgeons (also known as neurosurgeons) are generally very intelligent people; however, even brain surgeons make mistakes on occasion.
Although neurosurgeons are highly trained, thoroughly educated, and well-versed in their jobs, they are also human—and all humans make mistakes from time to time. But “Oops, I’m only human” isn’t a good enough excuse to explain away responsibility for negligent care. Mistakes made by neurosurgeons may include lack of planning, poor processes, poor communication, and even lack of experience with a certain type of brain surgery. Unfortunately, any error made during brain surgery may result in brain damage, paralysis, and other debilitating injuries.
Brain Damage Caused by Incision Errors
One type of serious mistake that causes brain damage and other debilitating outcomes is an incision error. Although frighteningly shocking, surgeons sometimes make inaccurate cuts that can lead to brain injuries.
Here are some of the ways neurosurgeons make incision errors during brain surgeries:
- The surgeon is in a hurry or under stress. Sometimes neurosurgeons are called into emergency surgery, but they may feel pressure to perform the operation quickly in order to get to another scheduled surgery, or they may have plans for their personal time that cause them to hurry the surgery along. Failure to invest careful thought and time in any neurosurgery operation can lead to serious consequences, such as irreversible brain damage.
- There is a slip of the hand. Surgeons are supposed to have steady hands in order to make precise cuts and perform brain surgery carefully. When a neurosurgeon consumes too much caffeine, doesn’t get enough sleep, or takes medications that affect the steadiness of his hands, then the operation can be marred by an accidental slip of his hand. When the scalpel makes an inaccurate, the result can be tissue or nerve damage—sometimes permanent brain damage.
- An imaging test is incorrectly read. Radiologists read magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, computed tomography (CT) scans, as well as other imaging tests, and write reports and summaries for doctors to read. When a radiologist misreads an MRI or CT scan, a neurosurgeon may base an operation off the wrong information—making an inaccurate cut or an unnecessary incision that causes a patient harm. However, sometimes the summaries and scans are correct, but neurosurgeons misinterpret them or come away with the wrong information. For instance, a CT scan may show a patient bleeding on the right side of the brain, but a neurosurgeon mistakenly drills into the left side of the patient’s head to stop the bleeding.
- Visible surgical site markers aren’t used. Generally, a surgeon marks a surgical site with a marker prior to performing surgery in order to ensure the correct site. With brain surgery, fiducial markers (small stickers) are usually attached to the scalp to mark certain areas in an effort to help a neurosurgeon navigate around the brain. When these stickers are in the wrong place or they aren’t used and no other markings are made prior to surgery, it is possible for a neurosurgeon to accidentally cut into a healthy part of the brain rather than a brain tumor or blood clot. Consequently, any time the brain is damaged there is a chance a person can suffer emotional issues, communication challenges, physical impairments, and memory loss that can last a lifetime.
Although many factors can lead neurologists to make mistakes during surgery, ultimately negligence is the cause. When an error made during surgery leads to permanent brain damage that causes lifelong complications for a patient, it is critical to get a medical malpractice attorney involved. Experienced lawyers know how to investigate situations like these to determine if a surgeon was negligent and deviated from the standard of care.
If negligence is to blame, you or a loved one deserve compensation for your medical bills, ongoing care, lost income, lost enjoyment of life, and so much more. Please call our office today or request a copy of one of our free books to learn more about your rights to a medical malpractice lawsuit.