Was My Surgical Error the Result of Negligence?

November 5, 2020

Although the vast majority of surgeries go off without a hitch, complications during surgery do occur. There are many reasons why things may go wrong during a surgical procedure — one reason includes the fact that the surgeon did not have the knowledge, experience, or skill to perform the particular procedure. When that occurs, it may constitute surgical malpractice. 

What is Surgical Malpractice?

Surgical malpractice involves a surgeon and/or surgical team breaching the applicable standard of care during a patient’s surgery. The standard of care is usually defined as the actions that another reasonably prudent surgeon (or other member of the surgical team) with similar training and experience would undertake under identical circumstances. Failing to perform a surgical procedure in accordance with the applicable standard of care rises to the level of malpractice when it directly and proximately causes the patient to suffer injury and damages — if the patient suffers no harm, no malpractice has occurred.

Performing New Surgical Procedures

New surgical procedures are developed all the time as new advancements in medical science, medical technology, and materials occur. As a result, even the most experienced surgeon will be performing a newly-developed surgical procedure for the first time. New surgeons will also need to perform routine procedures for the first time as well at some point in their career. When performing a new surgical procedure (or performing a procedure for the first time in a developing career), it is possible to commit an error and harm a patient. Sometimes this is due to the fact that the surgeon never had the knowledge, training, or skill to attempt the procedure in the first place.

If a surgeon is performing a procedure of the first time, is performing a new or experimental procedure, or performing a procedure that has a high risk of complications or failure, the surgeon must disclose these facts to the patient in order to obtain his or her informed consent to the procedure. A surgeon performing a procedure for the first time necessarily carries risks, no matter how highly trained or experienced the surgeon may be. The patient has the right to know about these risks in order to voluntarily accept them. 

Of course, there are also some risks that no patient should ever be asked to accept. If a surgeon does not possess the training, skill, or experience to be reasonably assured he or she can safely perform a procedure, the surgeon should not conduct the surgery even if the patient were to consent to it. 

If you suffer harm from complications during a surgical procedure being performed for the first time by your physician, in order to establish that surgical malpractice has occurred you will likely need to present expert testimony from another physician in your surgeon’s specialty to opine that your surgeon did not have the training or knowledge or skill to even safely attempt your procedure.

Types of Surgical Errors

Examples of surgical errors that can occur when a surgeon attempts a procedure without sufficient training, experience, and knowledge include:

  • Performing the procedure on the wrong site on the body
  • Causing unnecessary damage to the patient’s tissues
  • Performing unnecessary procedures
  • Leaving equipment or materials inside the patient

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Surgical Error Case in Pennsylvania

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in Pennsylvania? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Pittsburgh surgical error attorneys at Goodrich & Geist, P.C. are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in Pittsburgh and the surrounding Western PA counties. Call us today at (412) 564-4770 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. Our main office is located at 3634 California Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15212.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.