While all medical procedures pose at least some degree of risk to patients, few treatments are as dangerous as invasive surgery. When completed with a high level of precision and care, surgery can help save lives, stop the spread of all types of diseases, and rehabilitate patients from even the most severe accidents. Conversely, when mistakes are made during an operation, surgeons risk inflicting serious or even fatal injuries to patients. Although surgical errors are often preventable, they occur frequently in our country’s healthcare facilities.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 4,000+ mistakes happen in surgeries each year and as a result, over $1.3 billion in damages is recovered yearly by plaintiffs of surgical malpractice lawsuits. Nonetheless, there are countless cases where victims receive no compensation because they did not seek legal assistance or did not hire an attorney who is qualified for the job. If you or a loved one has been hurt during a surgical procedure, you need a surgical error lawyer who will advocate relentlessly on your behalf until justice is served.
In law, the term “surgical error” refers to any preventable and unexpected mistakes during an operation that was not caused by the procedure’s known complications/risks (i.e. caused by human error on the part of a surgeon or medical assistant). Every healthcare professional is held to a standard of acceptable care and when surgical errors occur as the result of negligence, by definition, this standard has not been met.
If you have been injured as a result of a surgical error, the following steps should be taken immediately:
When something has gone wrong during the course of a surgery, before it can be ruled a “surgical error,” it must be understood who is responsible, what damages occurred as a result of their action/inaction, and why they were unable to successfully complete the procedure. While there are innumerable amount of ways surgeries can fail as a result of human error, some of the most common mistakes are:
While these errors may seem uncharacteristic of a highly skilled surgeon, it is important to note that surgeons have one of the most demanding jobs in healthcare and even the best doctors can succumb to pressure while on the job. Although surgical errors happen frequently due to incompetence, more often than not, mistakes in the operating room can be traced back to fatigue and as a result, impaired decision making. Moreover, the extreme levels of fatigue and stress associated with performing surgeries have been known to lead clinicians to use drugs and/or alcohol on the job, further increasing the likelihood of a dangerous surgical error.
For victims of surgical mistakes, the path forward may seem daunting; however, there are ways you can mitigate the risk of further injuries and navigate through the financial uncertainties associated with large medical bills. Fortunately, individuals who have been injured by surgical errors have the right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit and in cases where a clinician (the defendant) is found to have acted negligently, the patient they have harmed (the plaintiff) may be entitled to compensation for their damages.
In civil lawsuits filed in New York, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff and the evidentiary standard is defined as a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, for a healthcare professional’s actions to be considered negligent, the plaintiff must prove the following elements:
In New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (Section 214-a), the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is defined as two and half years, (i.e. 30 months) from when a patient suffered their injury; however, it should be noted that under New York civil law, there are exceptions for certain types of surgical errors. For example, in cases where a patient discovers an object left behind in their body from a past surgery, the statute of limitations can be extended to one year from the patient’s discovery.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a surgical error, it is crucial you find a surgical error lawyer that is capable, competent, and well-versed in personal injury law. At Halperin & Halperin, P.C., we have over 40 years of experience protecting victims of medical malpractice and successfully litigating even the most challenging of cases.
If you need help, call us (212-935-2600). Our firm treats every prospective client like family and in the event, we cannot help you directly, we will find someone who can.