Although medical science and technology have achieved a great deal to reduce the risks of surgery, invasive treatment procedures under anesthesia will presumably always present some level of hazard for the patient. In a civil action for damages following an unfortunate patient outcome in surgery, the challenge for the patient’s legal team is to prove that the sequence of events that led to the injury or death was the result of negligent mistakes on the part of one or more members of the surgical team rather than a risk inherent in the surgical procedure itself.
Investigating Cases of Surgical Negligence
At McEldrew Law, we perform a careful review and analysis of the patient’s medical records and the OR monitor strips to identify the specific causes of a serious or fatal injury related to surgery. We work with highly qualified medical experts who are in a position to comment knowledgeably on the performance of the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist, a referring physician or hospital staff during postoperative care. In many cases, different defendants will blame one another while confusing the liability issues presented in the plaintiff’s theory of the case. In other situations, however, surgical negligence can be fairly easy to prove, as in cases where the surgeon left a sponge or surgical tool in the plaintiff’s body cavity, or operated on the wrong body part. Except in the most obvious cases of negligence in surgery, the legal-medical analysis of the case will often begin with a close look at the nature and sufficiency of the patient’s informed consent to the procedure. Was the patient adequately informed of the risks? Were viable alternatives to the operation discussed? Medical malpractice can occur at any of several different stages of a surgical procedure, including: • Referring and preparing the patient for surgery • Coordinating surgical preparation, medications and anesthesia with the patient’s known medical conditions, prescriptions and allergies • Failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs to prevent injuries caused by overuse or underuse of anesthesia • Committing errors in cutting or suturing • Failing to prevent infections through proper hand hygiene, instrument sterilization and proper postoperative care • Failing to monitor and respond to changes in vital signs during postoperative recovery • Failing to give the patient proper followup instructions The injuries that result from surgical mistakes range from serious illness and impaired organ function to permanent brain damage, paralysis or death.
Call (215) 545-8800 in Philadelphia for a Trial Lawyer’s Advice
Like other Pennsylvania medical malpractice claims, lawsuits for damages related to surgical errors must be supported by expert medical opinion before the case can go forward in court. At McEldrew Law, our decades of experience with the investigation and proof of negligence claims give us access to an outstanding network of surgeons, anesthesiologists and surgical nurses whose evaluation of the medical records is indispensable to the success of a negligence claim. For a free consultation with a seasoned Philadelphia surgical malpractice attorney, contact McEldrew Law by phone or e-mail.