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Surgical Error or Malpractice: How to Tell the Difference

Every surgery is associated with some degree of risk, no matter how large or small.

The thought of any mistake happening during a medical procedure is frightening. Unfortunately, surgical errors are more common than you think.

You have to be ready to act when you’ve been injured. There’s an entire legal field devoted to addressing these errors. It’s called medical malpractice law.

However, just because there’s a problem, doesn’t necessarily mean that a doctor committed medical malpractice.

How could this be?

Let’s take a closer look at the difference between a surgical error and actual medical malpractice.

What Is a Surgical Error?

A surgical error is a mistake that occurs during surgery.

According to Justin Kimball from www.preszlerlaw-ns.com, surgeons can make surgical errors when they do not adequately prepare for surgery by ensuring that the operating room is sterile and their surgical tools have been disinfected properly.

The most common errors include:

  • Cutting the wrong incision
  • Performing surgery on the wrong site or organ
  • Performing surgery while under the influence
  • Operating on a patient while tired
  • Leaving medical equipment inside a patient
  • Post-surgery infections
  • Operation as a result of misdiagnosis
  • Tissue and nerve damage
  • Errors during birth

These types of errors can lead to more medical bills. They may also qualify for compensation under medical malpractice law. However, not all negative experiences qualify for settlements.

How could a bad experience not result in a personal injury case? This is one of the most common – and most understandable – questions about surgical errors.

When It’s Not Malpractice

It’s essential to understand what a surgical error is and what it’s not. You can have a negative experience, but not every bad experience is an error. The error must be a result of negligence during surgery.

Many medical malpractice claims fizzle because of patient consent. Before undergoing surgery, patients sign consent forms that acknowledge the possible risks associated with their operation.

One risk may be pain after surgery. It would be hard to pursue a medical malpractice case for pain if a patient acknowledged the risk before surgery. Therefore, post-surgery pain is not a surgical error.

However, if post-surgery pain is a result of a doctor’s negligence, then you would have a much stronger medical malpractice case.

If your condition worsens after surgery, that’s not grounds for a medical malpractice case, as devastating as it is. You also can’t sue for an untreatable condition. However, if those experiences are a result of a misdiagnosis, you may have a case.

When to Call a Lawyer

If your negative experience is a result of negligence, call a lawyer right away. You can still talk to a lawyer if you’re unsure if a surgical error even occurred. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Look for a law firm in your area that specializes in negligence cases. Remember, malpractice laws and protocol vary from state to state. Each state in the U.S. has different compensation caps and filing deadlines.

Malpractice protocol varies from country-to-country too. Finding the right malpractice lawyer in your country is essential.

Take Action

Don’t let a surgical error give you more pain down the road. Whether you have a case or not, you must take action. You can proceed with a malpractice suit or get a free consultation.

Every patient should know their rights and their limitations under the law. Discover more legal facts on our blog to help you make the right decisions moving forward.

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